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Article Author
Confessions of a Born Again Fundamentalist Freemason. Nelson King, FPS
I am a Fundamentalist H. Edward Struble, MPS
I'm Glad My Son's A DeMolay J.C. Montgomery, Jr.
When A Man Is A Mason Joseph Fort Newton
Regarding the 47th Problem of Euclid Unknown
No Due Guard!  He can't be a Mason CAN HE!!! Nelson King, FPS
The Hiram Key - Euclid's 47th Problem More Coincidence John M Boersma, FFS


Houdini - Master of Illusion Part I

William E. Parker, MPS

Houdini - Master of Illusion Part II

William E. Parker, MPS

The Decline in Masonic Membership It's not completely our fault.

James W Hogg, MPS

John Hunt Morgan - Part I

Joseph E. Bennett, FPS

John Hunt Morgan - Part II

Joseph E. Bennett, FPS

Brother George  Where Have All Our Heroes Gone!

Thomas W. Jackson FPS




Confessions of a Born Again Fundamentalist Freemason

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or


By Nelson King, FPS

I confess that I am a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason.  Now before you have a cardiac arrest, or a stroke, let me explain what a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason is.

I used to be a very [for want of a better word] liberal Mason.  I am now a very Conservative or Traditionalist, Freemason.  Therefore, I am Born Again.

By Fundamentalist, I mean that I believe that no one has a right to be a Freemason.

I believe those who want to be Freemasons must be good and true men, free born and of a mature and discreet age and sound judgment, no bondsmen, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, only good men of good report.

I believe that a man who wants to be a Freemason must believe in the existence of God, and take his Obligation on a Volume of The Sacred Law of his choice and that he owes a duty to that God and to his fellow men no matter what their creed, color, or religion.

I believe that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral and civil law.

I believe that a man's religion or mode of worship should not exclude him from the Order of Freemasonry, provided he also believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and that Supreme Being will punish vice and reward virtue.

I believe that a Freemason is bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience.

I believe that Freemasonry is the center of union between honest men and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.

I believe a Freemason's Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter this Lodge which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits.

I believe all preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, therefore no Brother should be passed chair to chair, whether it is in a Lodge or Grand Lodge, just because he knows the right people or had held the previous officer for one year.  no Grand Master, Master, or Warden is chosen by seniority, but only for his merit.

I believe that there is nothing wrong with Freemasonry, as laid down for our instruction in our Ancient Charges.

I am a Born Again Fundamentalist Freemason


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I am a Fundamentalist

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By:  H. Edward Struble, MPS

My fundamentalism goes back fifty years.  I have believed all those years in the true definition of fundamental. i.e.:  of ground work; going to the root of the mater, serving as a base of fundamentalism.  My fundamentalism has served as my base and has contributed to the solid foundation of my beliefs.

I am not alone in my life as a fundamentalist, I am but one member of a group that numbers in the millions.  Our fundamentalist stand is not a recent development, its origin is hidden in the dust of history and since then its basic beliefs have been handed down and been made stronger by each generation that has been drawn to our teachings.

We are dedicated to upholding The Moral Law and allow none of our group to breach it without severe reprimand.  Our belief in Christ does not permit us to disparage or ridicule the believers of a different definition of the Supreme Being.  We have no need to establish differences in order to attract attention or to gain new members.  We seek to convert no one to our fundamental beliefs.  We welcome all believers with open arms and demand only that once they join our group they will strive to emulate the examples set by the ancient members.  Our belief is that Gods love pours from an everlasting fountain of refreshment sometimes referred to as the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran.  Our fundamental stand is sometimes criticized by the uninformed, the ill informed and practicing bigots.  We are encouraged that such criticism has proven to strengthen our beliefs and brought our members closer together.  Our fundamentalism is a no nonsense dedication to love God, love of family, and to love of Country.  Our only intolerance is the natural intolerance with those who deliver the untruths about any of the vital beliefs of our group.  We are well known as defenders of Truth.  We neither need nor wish to set any one group against another as being the devils handyman, nor an example of witchcraft, or to scare the uninformed with unsubstantiated and imaginary charges.

We have no need to berate anyone or any group in order to produce wealth for someone's extravagant life style and behavior.  We have not generated a program that is designed to give some individual power, political or otherwise, in order to feed that persons ego.  We have no need to raise funds in order to finance the distribution of untruths, or messages of fear or hate.  

Any funds we gather from our members are used to support numerous Charities on a continuing basis.  A great deal of that charitable work is quiet charity done without fan-fare or publicity.  Not seeking recognition, only the inner satisfaction of knowing we have worked in such a way as to be in keepings with the Lord's plan for all people.

Our fundamental group does not seek to convert nor to proselyte in order to increase membership.  We have attract new believers by setting an example that others find very close to their personal beliefs.  Above all we are pledged to the preservation of the truth in all things and in all teachings.

If in your travels you are ever questioned about our group keep in mind that each of us has pledged our love, or treasure, and our search for truth in service to all mankind.

We are committed to the belief in Brotherhood of man, to the Belief of a Supreme Being, and a life after death.


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I'm Glad My Son's A DeMolay

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By:  J.C. Montgomery, Jr.

I'M GLAD MY SON belongs to DeMolay.  No, I didn't covet his membership for the pin he could wear nor for the achievement awards he might receive from the Order; neither did I scheme for the social outlet it offers him although any of the foregoing advantages might be desirable.  Rather I'm happy John's in DeMolay because it sets him on the path of manliness in which I hope he'll walk all the days of his life.

What are the benefits of DeMolay for him?  For one thing, when he was initiated into the Order he entered a far-reaching fellowship.  Some three million men and boys have passed through the ranks of this fraternity or now hold membership in Chapters all across the world.  In that number are some who are leaders in industry, the professions, the entertainment world, and the armed forces.  But beyond those well-known names are the many, many thousands of former members who chief contributions to life are solid citizenship and upright character.  Yes, John need not be ashamed of the company he keeps in DeMolay.

Then he learns some great lessons in DeMolay.  In the two basic degrees he is confronted with some of life's most stirring truths.  The importance of loyalty to God, to home and country is emphasized to him.  No one, young or old, can ever see the Nine o'Clock Interpolation without his heart being stirred:  and any one who hears the Flower Talk will resolve to be a better person.  Through the moving drama of the DeMolay degree he learns of one of history's most noble figures; and he learns the lesson of fidelity to freedom even though it might mead death itself.  All through his life the DeMolay will be brought face o face with these challenges to which he first dedicated himself at the alter of his Order.

My son has found wonderful opportunities in DeMolay.  He is encouraged to participate in various Chapter activities for which Merit Bars are awarded as a sign of achievement.  In this way the DeMolay may pursue his interests in the fields of his choice, whether it be civic service, athletics, music, religion, visitation or dramatics.  No talent is despised, and each may find its use in the service of DeMolay.  When a years membership is completed, the DeMolay is eligible for the Representative DeMolay Award.  And then should he aspire after further recognition and earn it, there are the Distinguished Service Awards and the coveted Chevalier degree.

Further, I'm glad my son's a DeMolay not only for the opportunities but also for the responsibilities which it places upon him.  He must learn the twin lessons of being a follower and being a leader.  He is taught the duty of charity, and he learns the practice of compassion exercised in works of mercy to others less fortunate.  He begins to comprehend that he is "brother's keeper" not only in the easy fellowship of the Order but also in larger citizenship.

Likewise DeMolay brings my son into contact with dedicated Freemasons.  Although he is told at the outset that the fraternity is not a Junior Masonic organization, he also learns that a responsible Masonic group sponsors the local Chapter and that the adult Councilors are Master Masons who give a great deal of free time, talent and money for the good of DeMolay.  Life-long friendship will ripen from some of the association he has with these Masons:  and many a DeMolay is led by these experiences to petition a Masonic Lodge for membership because of the inspiration he has received from these fine Masonic leaders and the admiration he felt for them.

Perhaps it's selfish, but any man has personal satisfaction when his son's in DeMolay.  To be sure, he was of an age to join (DeMolays must be between the age of 14 and 21 to petition).  But there are more important requirements.  He had to state his belief in God, and he had to gain the approval of an investigation committee as to his good character and reputation.  When he was initiated, proficiency work was required for the degrees.  All of this meant that he as an individual had to measure up to certain minimum standards of character and work; and in this he did not fail.

As an organization DeMolay is quite young, being founded in 1919 by the late Frank S. land of Kansas City, Missouri.  But there is something timeless in its stately ritual and in its concern for youth believing that in them lies the foundation of future human welfare.  Never let us despise or neglect them.  Long years ago a disciple saw the possibilities in such youth and presented a youngster to the Master of Men, "There is a lad here."  In DeMolay these bright hopes for these lads are nurtured and cherished and guided.  What was said of Sir Launfal?

"Tall, and shining, and fair, and straight,

As he stood by the Beautiful Gate."

This honored Order will guide my son that way.  That's why I'm glad he's a DeMolay.


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M - When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope and courage--which is the root of every virtue.

A - When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellowmen.

S - When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins--knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds.

T - When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself.

E - When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child.

R - When he can be happy and high minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life.

: - When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead.

M - When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response.

A - When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of the faith may be.

S - When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond sin.

O - When he knows how to pray how to love how to hope.

N - When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellowman, with his God; in his hands a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song--glad to live, but not afraid to die!  Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give all the world.

---Joseph Fort Newton---

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Regarding the 47th Problem of Euclid--


Author Unknown


When i tried to find out the answer several years ago..I kept getting the standard definition of the square of the Hypotenuse being equal to the sum of the square of the two sides..and not being a mathematician it didn't help much.

Then an old Past Grand Master explained it to me in a way that makes a little sense to those of us who don't do calculus in our heads.

The 47th problem was supposed to be one of the basic secrets of a Master Mason.  The explanation and use is really simple.  If you are in charge of constructing a cathedral in "the good ol' days" before modern surveying equipment, the first thing you want to be absolutely sure of is that you are truly laying our and building square.  You don't want to go down in history as the boob who made the lop-sided cathedral.

If you lay out a square, let us say 100 feet by 100 feet, (substitute meters if you want) you need some way to be sure that you really have square corners.  So you then run a line between the opposite corners (creating a huge X in the center of the square).

If your work is laid out right, the distance from one of the points of the square to the exact middle of the X will be 70.71 feet...(not quite 70 feet 9 inches).

This is the 47th problem of Euclid:  the sum of the square of the Hypotenuse of a right triangle (the line from the corner of the square to the center) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.  To get THIS right triangle, you draw one more line, from the center of one of the sides to the center of the X.

The line from the center of the X to the long side should be 50 feet and the distance from THAT point to the outside corner should be 50 feet (remember this is the middle of the 100 food outside edge).  50 feet squared equals 2500 plus the 2500 from other side squared is 5000 feet. The square root of 5000 is 70.71....Proof your work is square.

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NO Due Guard! He Can't be a Mason, CAN HE???

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or


By Nelson King

The Philalethes, February 1998


I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me.

No, I don't have a Due Guard. What's a Due Guard? I have a dues card!

I don't know what you mean by Blue Lodge. I belong to a Craft Lodge.

You say my signs in all the Degrees seem strange to you. Your signs are just as confusing to me.

Landmarks? No, my Grand Lodge does not have any Landmarks ancient or other wise. Working Tools? Yes we have Working Tools.

What are they? In the First Degree they are the 24 Inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel. In the Second Degree they are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule. In the Third Degree they are the Skirret, the Pencil and the Compasses.

What is a Skirret? Well a Skirret is an implement which acts on a center pin from which a line is drawn out to mark the ground much like a chalk line

No there is not a Trowel to be seen anywhere in my Lodge.

Yes we have Volume of the Sacred Law.

What passage is it opened at? Well in the First Degree it is opened at Ruth IV verse 7. Why? Because it tells of Boaz and being slipshod. In the Second Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Judges XII verse 6, because it tells us of the password in the Second Degree and of the forty and two thousand that were slain. In the Third Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Ecclesiastes XII, you know the passage "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." No, I have never heard of the Volume of the Sacred Law being opened at Psalms 133.

Jewels? Yes we have Jewels. We have Moveable and Immoveable Jewels.

What are they? My Moveable Jewels are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule, and my Immoveable Jewels are the Rough and Perfect Ashlars and the Tracing Board. Yes! I am sure. The Moveable Jewels are moveable because they are worn by the Master and his Wardens and are transferrable to their successors at Installation. The Immoveable Jewels are immoveable because they lie open in the Lodge in all Degrees for the Brethren to moralize on. I understand they used be to your Moveable and Immovable Jewels, that is until the Baltimore Convention of 1843. And we also have a Tracing Board which is for the Worshipful Master to lay lines on and draw designs on.

No, I have never heard of a Trestle Board.

Who wears the Hat in my Lodge? No one of course. The only head coverings allowed are those worn for religious proposes, such as a Yarmulka. Yes that is right my Master does not wear a hat. Why? Because our Lodges have been consecrated with Wine, Corn, Oil and prayers to the Almighty, consecrated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and you do not cover up your head or consecrated ground, unless it is a part of your religion, it is like being in Church.

Yes, in my Lodge I can walk in front of the Master, between him and the Altar which, by the way, is in the center of the room, always moving from left to right, turning at right angles at each corner. It is called Squaring the Lodge and dates back to the time when what we now know as floor cloths were drawn on the floor with chalk. You Squared the Lodge so that you would not erase the chalk marks.

Yes, we have pillars in my Lodge. No they do not have celestial and terrestrial globes. They are adorned with chapiters, and these chapiters or bowls are enriched with net-work, lily-work and pomegranates. Network from the connection of its meshes, denotes unity, lily-work from its whiteness denotes purity and pomegranates from the exuberance of their seeds denote plenty.

Yes we have the Letter G. No it is not suspended in the East. The letter G, denoting GOD, is suspended in the center of the Lodge Room. Why? Because it says so in a part of the closing ceremony in the Second Degree. You know, where the Worshipful Master says.

Worshipful Master:"Bro. Junior Warden, in this character what have you discovered?"

Junior Warden:"A sacred symbol, Worshipful Sir."

Worshipful Master:"Bro. Senior Warden, where is it situated?"

Senior Warden:"In the center of the building, Worshipful Sir."

Worshipful Master:"Bro. Junior Warden, to whom does it allude?"

Junior Warden:"To God, The Grand Geometrician of The Universe, Worshipful Sir."

No, we don't have Stated Meetings. Yes, we conduct Lodge business. It is done during our Regular Meeting. No as I said we don't have Stated Meetings, we only have Regular and Emergent Meetings. What's an Emergent Meeting? An Emergent Meeting is any meeting called by the Worshipful Master that is not a Regular Meeting. No, we don't do our Lodge Business in the Third Degree. We do all the Lodge Work in the Entered Apprentice Degree the only reason to go to the Fellowcraft or Master Mason Degree is to confer those degrees. Lodge is always Opened in the First Degree and is always closed in the First Degree. If you have just raised a Candidate to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, you must close in the Third Degree, then the Second Degree and finally in the First Degree.

Our Entered Apprentices are expected to take part in all voting, serve on committees, learn and perform ritual work in the Degree that they have, and are considered full Masons even entitled to Masonic Funerals. And yes you also used to do all your Lodge work in the First Degree. Again this change was due to the Baltimore Convention in 1843.

No. I have never heard of a Middle Chamber, but we have one ceremony. It is not a Degree. It is only opened after the Third Degree and only on Installation Night. It is called the Board of Installed Masters, where only Installed Masters and Past Masters are permitted, with the exception of the Master Elect. Here, the Master Elect takes a further Obligation as regards the Secrets of the Master's chair. Here he receives the Grip and Word of an Installed Master and the sign and salutation of a Master of Arts and Sciences. He is then Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. The Board is then closed. All Master Masons are invited back to the Lodge Room. The new Master is then presented to the Master Masons, and the Master is given an explanation of the Working Tools of the Third Degree. The Lodge is then Closed in the Third Degree and all Fellowcraft are invited back to the Lodge Room, where they are presented to the new Master, and he is given an explanation of the Working tools of the Second Degree. The Lodge is then closed in the Second Degree and all Masons are invited back into the Lodge Room. Once again all are presented and the working tools explained. Then all other Officers are invested as Officers of the Lodge. The Worshipful Master is the only one who is installed.

Can I give you the Master Mason's word? Yes I can, but it is really two words and can be only given on The Five Points of Fellowship and in a whisper. Yes in a whisper not a in low breathe and yes it is two words.

Am I a Master Mason? Try me and prove me.

I am a part of a world wide group of Masons whose ritual is called Emulation Ritual. In The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario our Ritual is called "The Work" and it is an Emulation Type Ritual.

Emulation is one of the oldest post Union workings. It may well be the oldest, but in view of rival claims and in the absence of complete proof, this question cannot be answered with certainty. There are two points about Emulation that seem to put it into a class of its own:

(a) As a Lodge of Instruction, it goes back to 1823, with continuous existence since then.

(b) It is today the best organized of all the "named" rituals, having had a governing body to 'protect' it throughout its history, and in that respect, I believe it far outstrips all other "named" forms.

Bro. C. F. W. Dyer, in his, Emulation-- A Ritual To Remember, which is the standard history of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, published in connection with its sesquicentennial in 1973, shows that the founders experienced difficulties in its formation, because Lodges of Instruction at that time had to be sponsored by a Lodge. The Emulation founders had decided that their Lodge of Instruction was to be for Master Masons only (as it is today), and the Lodges which were invited to act as sponsors were not ready to accept that restriction. Eventually, the Emulation Lodge of Instruction was sponsored, on 27 November 1823, by the Lodge of Hope, then No. 7, whose Master Joseph Dennis, was one of Emulation's original members.

Is Emulation the original or oldest form now worked in England? It is certainly one of the oldest, but it would be impossible to say whether it is the "original." As Bro. Dyer explains:

No official record has ever been found of the Lodge of Reconciliation Ritual that was approved by the Grand Lodge.

Emulation is probably as near to the forms then prescribed as any of the workings surviving from that period. Its principal virtue is that it has enjoyed a proper continuity of control of its forms ever since its foundation.

In England in 1813 the two rival Grand Lodges, the Ancients and the Moderns amalgamated after sixty years of savage hostility, and formed the United Grand Lodge of England. After the Union, which is post-Union, the ritual was totally revised to make it acceptable to both parties. That is when many of the distinctive portions of the pre-Union ritual were jettisoned. That is when the two adopted substitute words came into use; one belonged to the Ancients and one to the Moderns, and they could not agree which was right, so they kept both. By the way the Ancients were the modern group and the moderns were the oldest group, but that is a different story. And that is why my ritual differs so much from yours. That and the Baltimore Convention of 1843 when you decided to do all your work in the Third Degree, and changed the Moveable Jewels to the Immovable Jewels, in order that you could keep out all Cowans and Eavesdroppers. This National Masonic Convention even changed the Due Guard in the First and Third Degrees. Due Guards, that I don't have.

The work of well over half the Lodges under the English Constitution and the standard work of several overseas Constitutions including the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario is based on the Emulation Ritual.

No, I don't have a Due Guard.

But I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me.

By what instruments of architecture will I be tried? By the Square and Compasses the well known symbols of Masonry, which convey the abstract means and end of the Science in a most clear and comprehensive manner, Worshipful Sir.

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The Hiram Key - Euclid's 47th Problem More Coincidence

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or


By John M Boersma, FFS

In 1979, I was Senior Warden of my Lodge and an eager student of Free Masonry. Brought up as a Catholic I was not well versed in what Freemasonry terms the "Volume of the Sacred Law", since Catholics basically tend to accept 'Faith" without question.' My curiosity peaked when the ritual taught me that - Geometry and Freemasonry were, originally, synonymous terms. In my early Masonic years I thus paused at Ezekiel, Kings, Chronicles and then one day in 1978 I was brows- ing through the Revelations of St John. There was a familiar ring to Chapter IV 1-11 ,which starts: "After this I looked and BEHOLD a Throne was set in Heaven and One sat on the Throne." As I kept reading, it hit me; here was Euclid's 47th problem as proven and etched in stone, by a humble Hindu Mathematician. Underneath it he had chiseled; Behold! Thus was born a Tracing Board - made of almost fifty kinds of inlaid wood- to partially reflect the various creeds, colors and races which makeup our fraternity. It was my privilege, as W. Master, to present it to my Lodge on behalf of family and friends. This Tracing Board was duly marked: A.M.D.G in deference to my Jesuit Teachers who taught us that all we accomplished would be for naught, un- less it was wrought: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam A.M.D.G. translated To the Greater Glory of God You and a multitude of Masons have already read two books by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas entitled: The Hiram Key and The Second Messiah, together with a number of negative reviews - on the former - by distinguished Masonic scholars. On my recent visit to London I learned from one of the Regalia stores near the Temple at Great Queen Street, that word was out from "someone" at the "Temple" - NOT - to have "The Hiram Key" for sale, I did not enquire about "The Second Messiah". It is tempting to make comments pro and con, both as to the written product as well as to the comments of respect- able Masonic Scholars. In this context, I recall recently asking a Worthy Brother who is rather involved in research, for HIS opinion of these two books. In a few well chosen words he left no doubt that he was satisfied that we were dealing with a bunch of liars, just out to make money. I asked him if he-himself had read these books. His answer was a daunting: "Me, reading it? Hey I have no time. . . I rely on the Book Reviews by respectable Masons If THEY say its NO history, If THEY point out LIES, that's good enough for me The statement I make to You, is that -having read these two books - I now know that my interpretation of St John's Revelations Chapter IV 1 - 11 appears far from coincidence. The 47th problem of Euclid was obviously both veiled and venerated by St John, the Seer of Patmos. The text below is taken from the Apocalypse or Revelations of St John, Chapter 4, vs. 1-11. "After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow 'round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4. And 'round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne; and 'round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7. and the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever. 10. The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created". So much for the tracing board. I have always been deeply intrigued with the "why' of the seeming importance of this 47th problem of Euclid. It is visible on the frontispiece of Anderson's Constitution of 5723 - 1723: between two Grand Master; the Duke of Wharton and the Duke of Montagu. It is just underneath a scroll on which is written "constitution" and below the 47th problem is written in Greek - Eureka - I have found it. We note that in many jurisdictions today it also figures in the Past Master's Jewel, moreover in many jurisdictions the three "initial" steps to the altar are marked by nine, twelve and fifteen steps - just divide it by three and figure!

My Question:

Why, Freemasonry's emphasis on the 47th problem, why MARK it on the frontispiece of the 1723 Constitution with "Eureka". What is it that we have found or should we perhaps ask: What is it that we ought to find? The quest for the Holy Grail - or perhaps?) The Truth- is obviously still ongoing and what Man thinks he can find, Man will eventually find! Books such as mentioned in this article accentuate the urgent need for a deeper study of both the Chapter and the Scottish Rite, particularly the latter. I have little doubt that St John's "Revelations" happen to be a part of both the problem and the solution thereof By the way, is it yet another coincidence that this St John - The Divine - is an ancient Patron Saint of Free Masons? I have just returned from a visit to Rosslyn Chapel, where - by coincidence and courtesy of the Supreme Council, 33 Washington D.C. - "The Friends of Rosslyn" did market colored photo- cards of John Melius's famous painting "the laying of the cornerstone of the Capitol" on September 18 1793. As noted on the back of these 7 x 4.75 postcards, the proceeds of L1.00 each, were to accrue to the Rosslyn Chapel Restoration Fund which has a target of L1.5 million. Alas, these cards were not on display, but at my request were dug up from a box behind a curtain and three were given to me, for free. It appears that some tension exists between the "Friends of Rosslyn" and the Owner of Rosslyn Chapel, the Earl of Rosslyn. This visit enabled me to attest to the veracity of the many discernible features alluded to in the Hiram Key. Another publication just. crossed my desk: "Holy Grail across the Atlantic" -The secret history of Canadian Discovery and Exploration. It is written by Michael Bradley and published by Hounslow Press, 2181 Queen Street East Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 1ES. On the back cover is the following statement by: Dr Edward W Hagerman, Associate Professor of History, Atkinson College, York University: "Michael Bradly brings to the study of Canadian History that most valued contribution: a new, and provocative interpreta- tion of facts that cannot easily be dismissed by the academic establishment". A similar statement - (substitute "Ma- sonic" for "Canadian" & "Academic") - could be directed towards the labors of our Brothers Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas and I take this opportunity to heartily congratulate both of them for bringing Masonic researchers the formidable challenge, not of rebut- ting some small pans, but of either accepting or rejecting the main canvas, which appears truly and well fash- ioned. Moreover, in true Masonic style they did not fail to bring "their discovery" to the attention of the World's Council. In the process they shed additional Light on our Order, by engaging in that most distinctive Masonic pre- occupation, "seeking for that which, is lost". You too my brother, we trust, will feel sad for a fellow pilgrim who would rather rely on learned reviews than on reading books for himself I still vividly recall how my old geometry teacher used to admonish me as I struggled with mathematical problems: "Read Boersma" - Read!" Happy research to you my brother - Read -!

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Houdini - Master of Illusion Part I

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By William E. Parker, MPS

As the famed magician was shackled and then lowered upside down into the water filled Chinese Torture Cell, gazing through the glass front illusion at the immersed man, the audience sat transfixed knowing that unless escape was possible within precious minutes certain death by drowning would result. The container was then locked and tightly banded, curtains drawn around it, the orchestra played a plaintive melody and an assistant bearing a fire ax stood ready to smash the cell open and release the master illusionist if need be his very name conjures up visions of magical miracles, thrilling escapes, death defying stunts and a mysterious persona capable of the Impossible. Impossible might well be the perfect word to describe Houdini.

Whether it was chains, cuffs, sealed containers, bank vaults, jails, packing cases or countless other restraints, he stood at the pinnacle of escape artists, literally the "King of Escapes." While he died three quarters of a century ago, other than two or three world-class entertainers made famous by television, the average person still thinks of Houdini when asked to name a famous magician.

What aura of greatness, mystique, and depth of charisma encompassed this man, rising from humble beginnings to the rarified pinnacle of glory, to have left such an indelible imprint on the pages of history. Certainly his early years gave little indication he would emerge a legend, a status achieved by few. In truth, there were two Houdinis: the performer as the world saw him, and Eric Weis the man and Freemason, a personality obscured from view by the public persona.

Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest on March 24, 1874, he claimed April 6th of that year in Appleton, Wisconsin, the date his Mother had claimed. Although she and several children did not arrive in the U.S. from Europe until July 1878, Eric already four years old, she possibly picked the U.S. location and date to guarantee Erich and Theo's American citizenship. If the date and location have been the subject of confusion, recent research clearly indicates the Budapest origin. His Father, Samuel Weiss, had wanted to be a lawyer but eventually turned to teaching religion. His Father's first wife having died giving birth to a son Herman in 1863, Samuel then married a Cecilia Steiner on May 27,1864. A son Nathan was born in 1868, William in 1870, Ehrich in 1874, Theodore in 1876, Leopold in 1879 and Gladys in 1891. Circum- stances surrounding the family's departure for America remain cloudy, although anti-Semitism undoubtedly played a major role. If a popular legend concerns an alleged duel between Samuel Weiss and a Hungarian nobleman with the subsequent need to flee, the duel is perhaps apocryphal since it seems highly unlikely a member of the Hungarian aristocracy would condescend to duel with an obscure Rabbi. The question has even been raised by some as to whether Weiss was actually ordained a Rabbi or simply assumed the title through years of study, but this is of minor import to our story.

Harry Houdini was a complex personality, a romantic ever willing to embellish his rather mundane and plain beginnings. Throughout his life, there are clear instances where he invented and/or "embroidered" events to enhance both his personal and professional image. The romantic duel tale, for example, points out his incessant need to "color" events, in this instance his family history, that there might be an aura of mystery and glamour involved.

With Hungarian friends in Appleton, Samuel had accepted a Rabbi's position there. Unfortunately, old-world conservative, somewhat quarrelsome, professing unorthodox interpretations of Talmudic law, unable to adapt to more liberal American ideas and with a poor command of English, he didn't adjust well to Appleton and the family relocated to Milwaukee hoping for better things. Better things rarely materialized, however, for whether it was Appleton, Milwaukee or later in New York, Samuel's quirks plagued the family fortunes until the day he passed away, October 5,1892.

With the large family always in need of money, Eric took a variety of jobs such as selling newspapers and shining shoes to help out. With virtually no formal education, he left home at age 12 for Texas "to make his fortune" but never made it to the Lone Star State. Holding odd jobs for a year or two as he traveled, both Eric and his family eventually relocated to New York, the city which would from 1888 on finally be called home, Eric continuing his cycle of odd jobs and particularly employment in a tie factory. It appears a co-worker in the tie shop and amateur magician, Jack Hayman, first introduced young Eric to many of magic's mysteries.

In Milwaukee, young Eric had been visibly impressed by Dr. Lynn, a touring magician, and later at age 17, he was literally captivated by the memoirs of the great French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, memoirs Houdini later came to believe were laden with much fiction. Still, at this point, with such influences it's perhaps not surprising he was drawn to what he believed to be the glamorous world of entertainment and magic where he might find fame and fortune.

He was so impressed by Houdin's life in particular that when a stage name became necessary, at the suggestion of his friend Hayman, he simply added an "i" to Houdin becoming Houdini. Some say his American friends called him Harry, a phonetic adaption of "Ehrie", his Mother's pet name for him, while others say he took Harry from Harry Keller, then a well known magician. In any event, he thence forth became Harry Houdini and his earlier youthful magic persona, "Eric The Great", vanished forever.

Houdini and his brother Theo, who later became a famous magician in his own right under the name of Hardeen, had begun a magic act playing lodge banquets, grubby beer halls, dime museums, and any other bookings they could obtain but the early years were a struggle. In the famous Coney Island, N. Y. amusement park, for example, they worked for coins thrown into a hat and in Chicago during the 1892 world Columbia Exposition, Harry gave 20 shows daily at a sideshow for $12 a week doing sleight of hand and other small tricks, although by 1893 he had added a handcuff act. During these years, performing alongside sword swallowers, fire eaters, contortionists and other carnival acts, he gained a world of information and experience in show business.

Their parents had been less than enthusiastic in seeing their sons depart from "traditional" Jewish trades, but the boys were in good company. Citing but a few, Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, Louis B. Meyer, Adolph Zukor, the Warner Brothers, the Shuberts, George Gershwin and Fanny Brice were all active in show business in one form or another.

As a adult, Houdini was somewhat shorter than about 5'4", with blue eyes, dark curly hair and of a rather careless appearance, yet his face seemed to project a burning handsome intensity. Immensely strong both in mind and body through exercise and a balanced living, he developed his physical state to an amazing degree of fitness with literally muscles of steel and a determination of mind to match. He had early on become a member of an athletic club's track team as well as developing into an excellent swimmer, trying out at one point for the American Olympic Team. During this period, he developed an extended underwater breath control technique which, together with his superb physical condition, would prove so essential in later years as an escape artist.

Different versions surround Houdini's meeting of and marriage to Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, or "Bess", and separating fact from fiction, like much of Houdini's life, is a difficult task. One version has Bess half of a "show biz" performing duo called the Floral Sisters, the act catching Harry's attention, while another story has Harry and a more demure Bess meeting at a magic performance she was attending with her Mother. And if the two versions cite different circumstances, what is certain is that the Houdinis always celebrated June 22nd, 1894, as their anniversary.

A match between rigidly Catholic and Jewish families might seem improbable, but it proved both successful and enduring for the Houdinis. To appease both sides, however, Jewish and Catholic ceremonies were also performed in addition to the original civil ceremony. If Houdini's Mother immediately accepted Bess, it wasn't until 1905, with Bess seriously ill, that her Mother finally accepted the match and a reconciliation was effected.

This is not to say that, as in most unions, there weren't occasional quarrels. There was also the famous Houdini habit of leaving their quarters after a quarrel, walking around the block, opening the door and throwing his hat into the room. This would be repeated until the hat wasn't thrown back out and Houdini then entered, Bess by then calmed down. While he was the most loving of husbands, given his fiery temperament and impulsive actions, it would appear that throughout the marriage Bess was constrained to exercise considerable restraint and forbearance.

After the marriage, Bess replaced Theo in the act becoming the principal assistant. Success was still a fleeting entity, however, and the Houdinis continued working traditional areas such as sideshows, beer halls, circuses, etc., often working ten to twenty shows daily. Always looking for new fields to conquer, sometimes unsuccessfully, one venture included a half interest in a traveling burlesque troupe, "The American Gaiety Girls," an exercise which ended in bankruptcy after several months.

At one point, in Nova Scotia in 1896, with no funds left for a room, they were forced to sleep in a hallway. Working their way back to Boston by performing on a ship, Houdini fell ill with sea-sickness, a malady which would plague him all his life, and Bess had a meal only because of the generosity of the ship's passengers.

On another occasion, in St. Louis, their prop trunk being held by the railroad for overdue payment, using jokes from old magazines they worked as a comic duo and were eventually able to redeem their trunk and continue magic engagements. Houdini would often visit gambling houses, buy used cards at bargain prices, and his wife would make up card tricks for sale to customers, a tedious but reasonably profitable sideline. In brief, their existence continued precariously for years and at age 24 Houdini considered leaving show business.

It was in 1895, looking for something different from other entertainers, that he thought of a challenge to local police stations on his ability to escape from their handcuffs and jail cells. By 1898/99, primarily as a result of these successful escapes, his reputation began to spread, better bookings followed and after years of struggle things finally began looking up, particularly after being booked by Martin Beck, an important Impresario who ran a large vaudeville circuit. Big-time vaudeville was then undoubtedly the most popular form of entertainment, the fledgling motion picture industry not yet the phenomenon it would eventually become. Acts played at least a week, usually appearing twice a day, and at salaries far beyond what Harry and his wife had previously commanded. It was Beck who counseled Harry to concentrate his act on escapes, a momentous career move as it turned out. For the Houdinis, it was their "breakthrough" and an end to dime museums, one-night stands, and burlesque days.

Houdini made much of his "secrets", as do most magicians. Magical secrets are, after all, their stock in trade, their means of livelihood. Like other performers, he emphasized the magical aspects for psychological reasons, a means of obtaining an "edge" over his public and a means to create awe and wonder. In truth, when illusions are "exposed", the enchantment often disappears and he went to great lengths to ensure secrecy of his methods. In the words of Sherlock Holmes: "If I told you how I did longer seem so remarkable."

Houdini spent years learning the mechanics of locks and handcuffs until he was undoubtedly one of the world's experts in the field. Unquestionably a master of opening secure devices of all types, he possessed a skill the likes which has not been seen since and likely never will again. With a brilliant mind for his chosen field, he also had the ability to almost instantly determine the type of lock being proffered during public challenges, where members of the audience brought cuffs and chains to test his escape skills, and thus the proper opening method. If such challenges were endless in number and infinite in variety, it is also of note that, unknown to the audience, in order to ensure adequate challenges he sometimes had paid assistants come up on stage carrying cuffs he was familiar with.

An early stage illusion, and a brilliant success, was the Substitution Trunk, or "Metamorphosis." Earlier versions had been presented since 1865, but Houdini made it into a veritable "show stopper." In brief, a person handcuffed inside a sealed bag, then put into a chained and locked chest mysteriously and virtually instantaneously changes places with someone outside the chest. The effect has proven so mesmerizing it remains a magic staple and one of the most popular items in the repertoire of modern stage magicians. Bess's small stature made her tremendously effective in this illusion and Houdini continued to feature the effect throughout his career, even after devising the diabolical milk can water cabinet illusions.

While not attempting to denigrate his unquestioned and unique skills, his "secrets" consisted not just in long arduous training but also in hidden keys, picks and "gaffed boxes" to coin an expression of the trade. A master of secreting needed picks, even when performing in private situations after being stripped naked and thoroughly searched, he had an uncanny ability to still hide his little "assistants."

In some cases, picks could be hidden in his shoes, in clothing, in chairs or other areas where he was bound and in others they could be surreptitiously passed to him. Often performing behind a screen, Bess or an offstage assistant always stood ready to secretly slip a needed pick or universal key in the unlikely event unexpected problems arose. Such assistance was needed only occasionally, but little was left to chance.

Nor am I divulging any secrets since virtually all of Houdini's methods and techniques have long since seen publication. Not all performers are equal, however. One can read books on magic, computers, or any other subject, yet not be able to properly implement their contents. Houdini, conversely, had an amazing ability and brought a charisma and personal persona of sheer magnetism to his presentations, mesmerizing audiences until they "believed" in his miracles, a rare talent indeed.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things." "The question is", said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all." In rather a like manner, Houdini indicated it was not what he actually did but what his audiences thought he did. The art of successful illusion, like Humpty's words, lies in the performer's ability to create a desired image in the audience's mind, an art of which Houdini was indeed a "master."

But why specialization in locks? Spending his teen-age years on the tough streets of NewYork, he became acquainted with petty thieves, safe crackers, con men, and criminals of all types. Listening to their exploits and methods, and then devoting endless hours to study and practice, he not only became well versed in card work but his interest particularly seemed centered on locks and their secrets. In that his reputation ultimately rests on escapes, rather than magic per se, his early "street education" was to prove fortuitous indeed. Later, as he became a professional entertainer, he realized he needed something different to compete with the plethora of magicians then working and doing escapes offered that difference, a chance to narrow the field of competition.

Escapes in and of themselves, however, were not enough for there were others who also did escapes. Houdini would be different and better through the elements of showmanship created to enthrall audiences. He had an undefinable aura and charisma which totally captivated an audience. He was not just doing an act, but seemed to be actually living a phase of his life - a phase which allowed no defect, no failure, and the audience felt it.

Further, there was also the publicity he created to enhance his image. He developed not only into a performer of unsurpassed ability, he could almost be said to be the creator of the modern "hard sell" so extravagant were his methods and claims. The great showman Barnum touted his circus acts - Houdini touted himself. It's possible no greater exponent of self-exploitation and advertising has ever lived. If"Chutzpah" were a marketable commodity, Houdini would have been worth billions! The French conjurer Robert-Houdin wrote: "A magician is not a juggler. He is an actor playing a role - the role of a sorcerer." Houdini played the role to magnificent perfection.

So baffling were his methods considered, some even attributed his legendary escapes to occult or supernatural powers. The "Metamorphosis" illusion, for example, drew such attention for it was argued how else could the dramatic and instantaneous exchange of two people occur, a less sophisticated public perhaps then in existence. No less a respected individual than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed Houdini had the power to dematerialize himself in one place and reappear in another.

While a modest success was being achieved and bookings increasingly followed, it was not yet total success in Houdini's mind. Thus, in 1900 he and Bess sailed for England where other American magicians had done well, a gesture of immense confidence since he had no firm English bookings. His recurrent sea-sickness meant much of the trip was spent sick in his bunk, but he recovered quickly afterwards.

London was not initially a "pearl" in his oyster, however, but through perseverance, a bit of luck, an escape from Scotland Yard's cuffs, and a trial appearance at London's famed Alhambra Theater, he was able to secure an English contract. In time and with helpful publicity, the London act caught fire, successful engagements followed in France, Holland, Germany and Russia and he and Bess would spend the next five years enjoying their European success.

As his fame grew, in these and subsequent appearances, he would break all existing attendance records in city after city becoming the most outstanding, sought after, and highest paid vaudeville entertainer on the Continent and British Isles. His ego was of monstrous proportions, however, suffering few imitators. He had "arrived" and believed he was the best. Perhaps his family's financial hardships had instilled a fierce determination to succeed, to be "somebody", to prove to the world there was only one Houdini and all others merely inferior copies.

Fiercely jealous of any contemporaries who also performed escapes, and indeed competitors of any kind, through the years he devoted much time and effort "fighting" against those who either "attacked" his act or who he felt debased the escape art through the use of trick or "gaffed" items, quietly failing to mention his own use of similar hidden methods. Needless to say, he garnered tremendous publicity in the process.

The single exception was his brother, Theo, who performed an escape act essentially duplicating that of his famous sibling. Performing as Hardeen, and ostensibly in competition with Houdini, it was possible for the two brothers to thereby often eliminate rivals and keep the better bookings for themselves. While Houdini loved his brother, there was nonetheless friction between the two, a situation seemingly tolerated by Houdini as long as he felt his brother recognized him as the one and only "Escape King." If Houdini's success spawned many imitators, none possessed his unique charisma or equaled his dynamic showmanship, unquestionably a major part of his success. Critics indicated that, while duplicating the Houdini act, even Hardeen could not capture the "Master's" special magic.

An early admirer of Houdin, Houdini later believed Houdin had not been truthful in his memoirs and while attacking what he called Houdin's "supreme egotism," Houdini himself undoubtedly equaled, indeed surpassed, that "supreme egotism." While performers in general are endowed with large egos, necessary to compete and succeed in the demanding and sometimes brutal world of show business, Houdini's was outsized even by such standards!

If antipathy towards his peers was clearly manifest, to those who represented no threat his actions were quite different. He was amazingly generous and thoughtful of retired or destitute magicians or their families, carrying his largess to such measures he often paid their rental fees or otherwise extended significant aid. He would also give benefit performances at charity hospitals and orphanages. While he and Bess never had children, he would constantly visit orphanages performing for children whenever possible or have them visit him backstage.

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Houdini---Master of Illusion Part II

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By William E. Parker, MPS

His generosity, while often kept largely in the shadows, was legion. Perhaps, due to the insecurity felt by many performers, he felt that he, too, might one day be in need as show business can be a fickle entity in the public eye one minute and forgotten soon after. It may be, too he was simply implementing the Masonic tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Charity. Perhaps, it was simply a combination of both. The Houdinis never had a home life or settled down in the conventional sense of the word, spending much of their whole career "on the road" performing at one venue or another, their residence a series of rooming houses and hotels. Their life was the theater, the circus, or wherever they happened to be performing. While Houdini bought a 26room New York townhouse and moved his Mother there, it would prove little more than a storehouse of magic and a place he occasionally visited.

He had a fascination for visiting cemeteries, to both see the graves Sf older performers, ensure they were well kept and it has been speculated he had other deeper psychological reasons. Ever alert to Houdini publicity, however, either Bess or a photographer was usually on hand to snap an appropriate photo. If Bess said cemeteries were serene and peaceful, for Houdini they represented something more. In the words of one of his biographers: "The clue is in his life: that paradoxical con- junction of compulsive vitality and an obsession with death."

He apparently feared death but faced such fears by constantly devising newer and more dangerous methods of ostensibly cheating the 'grim reaper'. of proving his superiority over death time and time again. In truth, his "death defying" stunts, such as the famous milk can and torture cell escapes, were safely routined and prepared in advance to ensure success. Unquestionably, there were strong elements of danger in his performances, with the real possibility of an unforeseen or serious incident, as happened as least twice, but every precaution was taken to minimize such dangers. He was a showman above all and the slightest threat of failure was anathema to his nature, a possibility his obsessive personality did not want to consider. One of the most enduring Houdini legends began on Nov. 27, 1906, when while heavily chained, he jumped from the Belle Isle Bridge into the cold waters of the Detroit Riven As the story now goes, he allegedly jumped through a hole cut in the ice of the frozen river, following which he narrowly missed death, being temporarily trapped under the ice, then after shedding his shackles, he miraculously found the exit hole and emerged from the River none the worse for the experience. While . he did indeed make the jump, there is a good bit of legend merged with the truth. Television and instant nationwide media coverage not then being existent, it seems a frozen river and under ice death escape were later added to details of the rather routine and mundane jump, it became a publicist's dream, and Houdini's two-week stint at the Temple Theater was a resounding success. What matter if an overactive public relations somewhat embellished the facts! The public can be a fickle entity, though, and to stay "on top", Houdini was constantly seeking newer and more difficult routines to capture his audiences. Rarely sleeping more than 5/6 hours a night, he spent much time in the quest. The Milk Can, Chinese Water Torture Cell, Bridge Jumps, Walking Through A Wall and other presentations all attest to the success of that quest and his marvelous flair for showmanship.

By 1912, he was playing eight weeks in Hammerstein's N.Y. Roof Garden at $1,000 a week, a princely sum in that era. If in fairy tales a legendary pot of gold is often found, Houdini's reaction to the Roof Garden engagement comes close by demanding his first week's salary in $20 gold coins which he then poured into his Mother's apron. Even this sum pales by comparison, however, with the larger sums later received not to mention his demand for 5001o of the profits in some instances which raised his salary to enormous heights becoming the highest paid entertainer in vaudeville.

The years were rolling by and Houdini realized he could not always dangle upside down high above the ground freeing himself from a strait jacket. He needed new worlds to conquer and so in 1919 he moved into movies, first in a "cliff hanger" serial and then "cliff hanger" feature films. His screen appearances featured fast action, fantastic escapes and spectacular stunts such as a breath-taking Niagara Falls sequence in "The Man From Beyond." He would invariably be chained, roped, or otherwise immobilized by villains in sequences which required his imminent release to escape death and then rescue the heroine from an equally perilous situation. Needless to say, he always prevailed. After making a serial and two films, he formed his own company and wrote, edited, directed and starred in two more feature films. Motion pictures are not vaudeville, though, and his efforts lacked the element of imminent suspense. After all, it was only a movie with possible trick photography, not a live act where an audience could be captivated by every agonizing moment of his escape attempt.

The films might have been a success at the hands of a Douglas Fairbanks whose on-screen charisma could carry the day, but Houdini had neither the writing nor acting skills required and the films inevitably suffered. They were not a total disaster, however, for the screen medium brought him more fame, enhanced his vaudeville career and carried him to the London Palladium at $3,750 a week, the largest sum ever offered to a single entertainer there to that point. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire throne, was assassinated at Sarajevo and Europe rolled into W.W.I. Then, on May 7th, 1915, the liner Lusitania was torpedoed with the loss of some 1,100 lives, over 100 of them American. Other events followed, the situation grew increasingly tense and on April 6th, 1917, the U.S. entered the War.

The War naturally put a stop to his European appearances. Fiercely patriotic, in 1917 he tried to enlist but at age 43 was rejected as being too old. Not to be derailed, however, for the next two years he performed at military benefits, canteens, and training camps, usually at his own expense, often working with stars such as Will Rogers, Sophie Tucker, Jim Corbett and Tom Mix. He was also active in selling "Liberty Bonds", chalking up sales of $1,000,000 virtually single handedly.

His wife and her family having beliefs in ghosts, witches and other forms of superstition, early in their marriage Houdini had attempted to dispel such concerns. If he eventually succeeded, initially it was a trying experience for Bess who thought she had married a"devil sorcerer." It may be that which first prompted his interest in spiritualism and then concern over fraudulent practices therein. Or, it may have been his attendance at a spiritual seance in his youth where he immediately grasped the immense financial possibilities. Those events, coupled with an 1891 expose book detailing escapes and spiritualistic methods, all undoubtedly influenced the young man. Interestingly, while he later began to expose spiritual charlatans, he had himself followed the s~me path and had given psychic presentations early in his career as a means of adding to his income, spiritualism then in vogue. Giving his initial psychic performance in January, 1898, in a Kansas engagement, his presentations were hugely successful if not personally satisfying. In time, he became embarrassed at the gullibility of his audiences and revised the act to emphasize magic and escapes rather than spiritualism, indicating that any psychic effects were simply the product of natural means.

Could mediums communicate with the Netherworld? While keeping an open mind should a truly honest spiritual manifestation ever present itself, he developed a total aversion to psychic fraud and its perpetrators spending years both studying and lecturing on the issue. While spiritualism as entertainment was permissible, he felt the art was used by charlatans to cheat unsuspecting victims. With an evangelistic zeal, he became a fervent crusader exposing fraudulent mediums, fortune tellers, palm readers and fakers one after another even attacking the evil influence of the Quija Board, carrying a highly successful stage presentation throughout the country.

It's also likely his motivation arose in part by an attempt to "reach" his Mother for whom he bad a deep emotional attachment, a relationship which often guided his actions. Her death, July 17th, 1913, while he was touring in Europe, proved a devastating experience. Returning immediately to New York, he was inconsolable for a~while spending much time at her grave site. In a touching moment, his Mother having asked him to bring back a pair of warm woolen house slippers, Houdini placed them with her as she was laid to rest. It was a measure of his inner strength that by September he was able to resume work, but he was nonetheless left with a lasting sense of loss from which he apparently never fully recovered.

The spiritual aspect gave rise to one of the most curious friendships of the era. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and his coldly analytical mind, turned to spiritualism in his later years and became a firm "believer." (Philalethes Oct.1996) At one point, there appears to have been a somewhat controversial seance whereby, through Lady Doyle's intercession, Houdini's Mother apparently spoke to him although it appears the magician found several reasons to deny the validity of the seance.

Houdini, well versed in theatrical effects, used his knowledge to great advantage in stage presentations unmasking spiritual frauds and became the antithesis of Doyle insofar as spiritualism was concerned. With Doyle a sincere and firm "believer", never relinquishing his views, and Houdini equally determined to demystify the subject, it eventually became obvious a meeting of minds was impossible. While a warm relationship existed between the two for some time, the friendship eventually cooled due to opposite viewpoints and attitudes.

An avid collector not only of anything magical but also other items which caught his eye, he endlessly sought out old apparatus and books and other diverse miscellanea sending everything to his N. Y. home until the house resembled nothing less than a small and highly cluttered museum, with much of the collection still in boxes. His library collection of magic, witchcraft, and spiritualism was undoubtedly one of the world's largest, but other non-magical areas were also represented.

For example, there was a large Lincoln collection, countless paintings, some valuable and some not, two works by the 18th century London Freemason Hogarth, one of the great English painters and engravers, a portable writing desk alleged to have belonged to Edgar Allen Poe, original signatures of the Declaration of Independence signers, and numerous other works. With a pride of possession bordering on a neurosis, he was particularly fond of magic wands which had belonged to other well-known magicians and it has been speculated he felt their powers passed to him through possession of such wands.

Interestingly, his collection also included an Auburn Prison electric chair he had acquired at an auction for "sentimental reasons." An electric chair escape sequence had been featured in his first film appearance and he may have envisaged using it in an "escape" in his shows. In a continuing sequence of almost comedic movements, however, Houdini would place the chair in the main part of the house, Bess would then move it to the basement, and Harry would, in turn, move it back again.

A Member of the Craft, Houdini was not alone among Masonic magicians, a group which included such notables as Harry Keller, Howard Thurston, and Harry Blackstone. Initiated in St. Cecile Lodge, N. Y., July 17th, 1923, he was Passed and Raised July 31st and August 21st and in 1924 he entered the Consistory. Immensely proud of his Masonic affiliation, he gave a benefit performance for the Valley of New York, filling the 4,000 seat Scottish Rite Cathedral and raising thousands of dollars for needy Masons. In October 1926, just weeks prior to his untimely death, he became a Shriner in N.Y.'s Mecca Temple.

Show business can be a demanding and often lonely profession, particularly so in Houdini's era where performers spent long hours traveling by trains with theaters and rooming houses their eventual destination. Many performers have been Masons both because of the Masonic ideals exemplifie4 by the Craft, as well as the Craft being a solace in their continuing travels with Masons and Lodges to be found virtually everywhere. There have been a number of Lodges composed essentially of those in the entertainment world, primarily in New York and Hollywood.

On October 22nd, 1926, during an engagement at the Princess Theater in Montreal, Canada, Houdini was talking to McGill University students in his dressing room. Lying on a couch resting, a first-year student asked permission to test the entertainer's abdominal muscle control and strike the magician. Houdini, accepting the challenge, mumbled his assent whereupon the student struck before the necessary muscles could be tensed, obviously a critical requirement. Later, although there were nagging signs of stomach pains, Houdini ignored them in the tradition of "the show must go on." That evening, he suffered more pains but nonetheless continued his schedule through October 23rd

Arriving in Detroit the next day, he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis but insisted on performing. Finally, with a temperature of 104, he was taken to Grace Hospital where a ruptured. gangrenous appendix was removed but peritonitis had unfortunately set in. Despite medical predictions of imminent 4eath, his strong will to live was such he held on almost a week, finally succumbing at 1:26 P. M., October 31st, 1926,. at the age of 52, Halloween Day, perhaps a symbolically magical date for his final curtain.

His body was taken to New York, ironically in an expensive bronze casket he had ordered for use as publicity stunt, with the funeral services held at the W.43 St. Elks Lodge Ballroom with some 2,000 in attendance. In the impressive two hour service, two Rabbis eulogized Houdini, the Society of American Magicians performed a "Broken Wand" ceremony written especially for the occasion, there were tributes from the National Vaudeville Artists and Jewish Theatrical Guild, rites by the Mt. Zion Congregation, the Elks, and Masonic Rites by the St. Cecile Lodge.

Following the services, thousands lined the sidewalks to pay tribute to Houdini as the funeral procession wound its way to Machpelah Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y., a site Houdini had selected after a long search, where he was buried in the family plot. The family exception was Bess who would be buried in a Catholic cemetery elsewhere. Letters from his Mother were placed in a black bag and used as the coffin's pillow for Houdini's head.

Always looking for areas to both occupy his time and enhance his reputation, Houdini was particularly active in rejuvenating the Society of American Magicians which, while organized in 1902, had remained something of a relatively modest New York City group. Through intense campaigning, he was able to expand the group into a bona-fide national (now International) organization and was elected its President in 1917, although his relationship with the Society would blow hot and cold through the years. As mysterious in death as in life, there seems to be some confusion concerning the specifics of his death. It has been determined that he died from peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix, but circumstances then become cloudy. If Detroit has been well established as the locale, some reports indicate he was already suffering from appendicitis and the student's blows did not cause but merely aggravated an existing but perhaps undiagnosed condition.

Houdini was also recovering from a fractured ankle apparently had some form of internal injury suffered during a strait jacket rehearsal during the summer and had recurring kidney damage resulting from years of strenuous over exertion performing escapes. In brief, although his physical condition did not match the peak of his earlier years, this in no way diminished his obsessive need to perform. Seemingly indifferent to aches and pains throughout his career, his "superhuman" image of himself constantly drove him on whatever the cost the cost eventually being his life. Houdini spent almost as fast as he earned with only a modest portion remaining of his lifetime earnings. Fortunately, in addition to proceeds from estate sales, Bess also received substantial life insurance benefits thus assuring a comfortable lifetime income. She sold the W. 113th St. home and moved to another area of the city, Houdini's vast collection of magical and other miscellanea being dispersed to the Library of Congress and among friends and collectors. If the dispersal was a tragedy, his collection undoubtedly being one of the world's finest, fortunately much still remains available in various public and private collections. His brother, Theo, acquired much of his active performing apparatus continuing his own career until 1945, passing away in June of that year.

The Literary Digest called Houdini "the greatest necromancer of the age perhaps of all time." Be that as it may, before Houdini died he said he would send a message to his wife from beyond the grave if it were possible. Many seance attempts have been made to bring Houdini's spirit back but none have succeeded. Bess offered $10,000 to anyone who could produce spiritually the secret message she and Harry had prepared, but when no one could after a period of 10 years she withdrew the offer.

Through the ages, the art of conjuring has seen many transformations from an art to be feared to a position of honor. The ancient Greeks both worshiped and feared their Gods whom they credited with supernatural powers, the Priests of ancient Egypt and their secrets occupied a preeminent place in that society while the Roman emperors were, in general, opposed to sorcery and took measures against it. In the legends attributed to the Artliurian era, while the wizard Merlin occupied a respected, if nonetheless feared, position, the significance is not in whatever truth lies in the legends but rather the status accorded Merlin.

The lot of the magician, or sorcerer, has not always been an easy one. In the words of the German Freemason Goethe: ("Wir sind gewohnt, dass die Menschen verkahnen, Was sie nicht verstehen.") We are accustomed to seeing man despise what he does not understand. This truism has been expressed in many languages, but the fundamental truth remains constant. As the Christian Religion grew, centuries of superstition grew with it.

Using whatever pretext was politically expedient when faced with events it could neither understand nor accept, the Roman Church in its ignorance and intolerance decreed that sorcerers must be destroyed and tens of thousands of alleged witches and others were burned at the stake, often innocent but simply victims of groundless or malicious accusations. What matter if many also perished simply because of disagreement with Church doctrine. Since the first Papal Bull condemning the Craft in 1738, Freemasonry and Freemasons have come under similar persecutions by the Church, charges of magical practices often a convenient excuse to be added to those of heresy. (Philanthropies 1994).

Even Jacques DeMolay, Grand Master of the Templars and a long-standing servant of the Church, suffered a tragic fate in 1314 falsely accused not only of heresy but also of diabolical and Satanic practices. It has nonetheless been documented the charges were politically motivated when the Templars' services were no longer required, the Order simply a victim of its own success. (Philalethes Dec.1994) By the medieval period, if sleight-of-hand artists and traveling "mountebanks" performed for Kings, Princes, and at 'Faires", they had nonetheless learned it was both unwise and unhealthy to claim supernatural powers, entertainment only being their stated purpose. Instances of sorcery persecution would continue through the centuries, however, as witness Joan of Arc's trial and burning in 1431 and the infamous Salem (Mass.) Witch Hunts of 1692 where almost 20 persons, mostly women, were executed amid allegations of practicing the occult arts.

In the modern era, while some early magicians often made social gains, they were nonetheless usually seen essentially within the context of "show business" rather than "good society". History has a way of moving on, however, and the art and artists of magic continued to make progress. If; in the Middle Ages, Houdini would likely have been burned at the stake, by the beginning of the 20th century he and several other world-class performers were acclaimed for their achievements, and in todays world the magical arts enjoy unprecedented prestige.

There is little doubt Houdini presented his "death-defying" escapes in a dazzling manner, one peculiar to his own personality and to the era in which he lived. He was, after all, a showman first and foremost, a product of a particular era, an era ready to 'believe", and perhaps in some respects an era unworldly and naive by comparison with today's technological society. As such, his actions must be considered both in the context of show business and of his era.

As Sherlock Holmes has said "We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow." Sometimes, however, in lieu of fading. the shadow endures and becomes an all pervasive reminder of a unique figure whose larger than life persona lingers on, Houdini's shadow not only endures, but his name has entered into the hallowed realm of legend, synonymous with the mysteries of magic and will likely remain so forever.

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The Decline in Masonic Membership

It's not completely our fault.

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or


By James W Hogg, MPS


This article details the thoughts and perceptions of the author, who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's, as a member of the baby boom generation. It is not meant to assert that there is only one way of viewing the events leading up to the present. Necessarily, some generalizations have been made in presenting this material. Any good lawyer will acknowledge that, for the most part, there is an exception to every rule. Where reference is made to a "liberal" view, this describes a philosophical theory or belief- not a political commentary. The author has attempted to write in a politically neutral style. "Liberalism" is known to transcend both of the political parties in our two party system of politics in the United States. Members of both of these parties hold liberal beliefs to various extent. There are many different ways to look at things. The purpose of this article is to provoke serious thinking, brought to your attention by a member of one group Masonry would like to target for future membership growth. This article merely advances some of these viewpoints as perceived by the author.

Agenda of social engineers of the 60's

Society has changed dramatically since the heyday of Freemasonry after World War II. These were the days of unprecedented growth in America's economy, bringing with it prosperity and a wide variety of well paying jobs. During these years, it was possible for the average wage earner to raise a family on one income. We were rebuilding our economy in the wake of the war with many new manufacturing jobs. Back in those years, America was the innovator and virtually all the well made products came from the industrialized countries, such as the United States, Germany, and Great Britain. "Made in the U. S. A." became a mark of quality. Then came the 1960's. What changed? We had a new liberal focus on the way things should be for a better future. Along with this came the civil rights protests in the South, resulting in new laws being passed by the legislature in Washington guaranteeing civil rights to everyone. This conjures up images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech. No longer would segregated schools and racial discrimination in this great land of ours be tolerated. Now, there were laws on the books to prevent this type of discrimination against others because of their race. Today, these laws are also being applied with respect to gender. Recent developments in the law provide that one cannot discriminate against an individual because she happens to be a woman. Examples of this are the U. S. armed forces and the B.P.0. Elks. Today, both must accept women among their ranks. This new outlook was to have a profound influence on not only Freemasonry, but other fraternal organizations and private clubs throughout the United States.

Results of this change - tax code, public accommodation laws, disdain for private groups

The social engineers of the 60's saw this as an opportunity to re-mold our society and change things to dismantle the old ways of doing business. This was the beginning of a new attitude toward private groups and fraternal organizations. These groups were seen as hotbeds of racial discrimination and no longer of use to a civilized society where everyone was supposed to be equal. It was thought that because these groups selected those with whom they wanted to be associated with by ballot of the membership, this was tantamount to discrimination. It was also a well known fact that membership in certain of these organizations benefitted the members in their business endeavors. Frequently, business meetings were held within the rooms of private clubs. Thus, the social engineers asked, "why should members of private clubs be permitted to use their memberships in these clubs to benefit themselves financially?" They saw this as the epitome of an "old boy's" network, to which those who were not white male Caucasians were excluded from participation.

With this general analysis as a base, new laws were promulgated. The result is the familiar rubric of Internal Revenue tax code regulations concerning what a tax exempt organization can and cannot do with respect to retaining its tax exempt status. Also, the public accommodation laws on the federal level came into being, severely restricting what a private group could do if it wished to remain private and keep its Constitutional First Amendment right of freedom of association. To quote from coverage of the General Governor's report contained in the August/September 1997 issue of Moose Magazine, which is the international publication of the Loyal Order of Moose: "The Private Policy, which essentially states that only members of the Loyal Order of Moose and the Women of the Moose may enjoy full Social Quarters privileges within our Lodges, was emphasized throughout the General Governor's report [to the 109th International Convention]. He noted that in the U. S., the Internal Revenue Service has recently stiffened enforcement and penalties against fraternal and veterans' organizations that sell merchandise to non-members. 'Sales to non-members threaten a Lodge's right to privacy and its not-for profit status,' said [David A.] Chainbers [the out-going General Governor]. 'The rule is simple; you are either a member or a guest, but you cannot be both. Non-members cannot make purchases in our Lodges. In other words, non-members cannot spend one penny. Moose Magazine, p. 14. [emphasis ill original]. From all of this, it is very clear that our Federal Government has a complete disdain for private organizations for many of the reasons outlined above.

Case in point.

Judge David B. Sentelle.

President Reagan nominated judge Sentelle on February 2, 1987, to be a U. S. circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. judge Sentelle happens to be a prominent Mason from North Carolina, having been unanimously confirmed by the U. S. Senate on October 16, 1985, to be a U. S. District Court judge for the Western District of North Carolina. It seems that this time, his membership in the Masonic fraternity became of issue during the nomination and confirmation process in the Senate. The issue raised there should be very familiar to everyone by now: invidious racial discrimination. After a lengthy discourse about what the fraternity represents, a tally of present and past U. S. Presidents and legislators as being Masons, and a reference to our own Sovereign Grand Commander advising that Freemasonry does not discriminate based on race, color or creed, judge Sentelle was confirmed. Freemasonry was under attack in the United States Senate of all places! I recommend as required reading the Senate proceeding, which contains the details of this account. It can be found in the 100th Congress, First Session, p. S-1 1868 to 11870, which was re-printed in Transactions, The American Lodge of Research, F &A M., Vol XV, No. 3 - 1983.

Government being the answer to everything

The liberal view of government also embraced the concept that government was the answer to everything. No matter what the problem was, it could be solved by establishing another government agency on the federal level. All we had to do was give this new agency money to address whatever happened to be the problem of the day. A perfect solution would be found and implemented by the agency and all would be well with the world. This attitude began with Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" era, later to be refined during Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society". Indeed, government also grew in latter years during George Bush's administration with tax increases and more government regulation imposed on the people. It was not until the late 60's where we finally achieved deficit spending on the federal level on a recurring basis. The belief was, and still is today, that we can spend and tax our way out of all the problems facing us. High taxes are necessary to maintain a large and strong central government. This Is one reason why it takes two incomes to accomplish today what one income could do in the 1950's. The general public is generally thought to have insufficient knowledge to know what is best for them. Thus, the need for a large and strong central government. After all, someone needs to protect the people from themselves.

Vietnam era protests,

anti-establishment views

The protest movement surrounding the Vietnam War added fire to this new liberal view of government. The post World War II baby boomers growing up in the 50's and 60's did not want to fight in this unpopular war in Southeast Asia. Many asked: just what was the U. S. really doing there in the first place? These young people saw those running our country as the establishment and they wanted change. Many saw versions of socialism as the answer to all of our, problems. Not coincidentally, the belief was that private groups and clubs, such as Freemasonry, were part of the establishment. In the eyes of these baby boomers, this was considered bad. We had a big central government now to take care of all our needs. Private groups and clubs were no longer considered relevant in this newly re-engineered society. Another thing that did not set well with these baby boomers was the way in which our returning Vietnam Veterans were generally treated by our society. They were openly criticized and, for the most part, not welcomed back after serving in the armed forces. This was quite a stark contrast from the welcome that awaited those returning from military service after World War 11. It is interesting to note that today, many of these baby boomers are now running our country. It is no small wonder that they feel the way they do about private organizations such as ours!

The Re-engineering of our Educational system.

Concerning perceptions gained by our youth regarding fraternal organizations, there is one other dynamic that comes into play and that concerns how our children have been educated in the recent past. The social engineers also were able to influence our institutions of higher learning, convincing educators that the new liberal view of government was good for the country and would vastly improve the standard of living for everyone - particularly those who were poor or disadvantaged. The siren call was irresistible. Who could possibly be against helping the poor and enhancing educational and occupational opportunities for the disadvantaged? Opposing these ideals would be un-American! Thus, we instituted a socially responsible curriculum in America's schools and colleges. Those of us who grew up under this new system were taught all about the evils of race discrimination and how the government was there to help us, doing many great things for the people. We were also taught that collective bargaining was good for America and that, generally, big business was greedy and had no interest in its workers' well being. We were also taught that the Keynesian theory of economics was the universal and accepted way of studying business and economic cycles in America. Let us not forget the concept of new math - also a product of the 60's. None of our educational materials ever mentioned Freemasonry, the Moose, Elks, the American Legion, V. F. W., or the many other worthy organizations in existence at the time. Only one time do I recall a passing reference to the Grange and its relationship to farming being mentioned in connection with a social studies course I had in grade school. None of the schools I attended ever had any programs where groups such as these ever conducted a program or presentation for the students. I had never heard of Freemasonry until I was a junior in high school and then I happened upon it only because I was a stamp collector. To make matters worse, I could find nothing in my high school or university libraries that would tell me what Freemasonry was! (Note: I grew up in the Northeast.) This raises an interesting question: How can fraternal organizations encourage people to join them if prospective members have no clue as to what a fraternal organization does and has to offer? Put another way, people will not enter a store unless they perceive that there is something within that store which they can obtain to fulfill a need. Remember, however, that one major reason for this lack of available information was that private groups were seen as being part of what was wrong with America!

Change in corporate culture and

financial rewards to employees.

The gradual shift in the moral perception of society is reflected in the new corporate culture in existence today. In the years that my father pursued his career, loyalty and hard work were usually rewarded by promotions and the ability to climb the corporate ladder to success. This made career planning relatively easy. Also, many companies shared their profits with the employees because, after all, they were the ones who made the wheels turn generating corporate earnings. When the company did well, so did the workers. Profit sharing today, generally, is now relegated to the top corporate executives and the shareholders of a corporation. When the workers do get profit sharing, it is not as generous as the way it was in the old days. A case in point is this: A neighbor who lived across the street from me while I was growing up received a profit sharing' bonus in the early 1950's amounting to $30,000 from her employer. (Note: that is $30,000 in early 1950's dollars. Think about what that would be worth today.) At the time, she was an executive secretary for a mining firm that mined Molybdenum, a mineral used in the steel making process. The company she worked for was a predecessor to another company, which is known today as Amerax. She informed me that everyone in the firm received bonuses like this that particular year, according to position and years of service. When she received her bonus, she was called into the President's office, made to feel comfortable, and told that the firm was grateful for her services as an employee. It was at that time she was handed the envelope containing the $30,000 check. In the years following, the bonuses were smaller, more typically amounting to anywhere from one half to 100% of her salary for the previous year. The story nowadays is different. While profit sharing does exist today, it rarely reaches heights such as in this example just described. There are, of course, exceptions - such as securities firms on Wall Street after an extraordinarily successful bull market year. As for wages in general, it should be noted that the relationship between a top executive's pay and the average worker's pay today continues to grow in disproportionate ways. This is a matter of public record. just pick up a proxy statement for almost any public corporation and this fact becomes very evident.

Loyalty generally goes unrewarded,

employment security suffers.

Today, we are in an era of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a constant re-engineering of a company's reason for existence. This generally means that downsizing for competitiveness is in order. This includes layoffs to make way for productivity advances through the use of technology and automation. Loyalty is generally no longer a part of the equation. An employee's loyalty to company A is meaningless when company B steps in and acquires company A. There is no longer employment security, especially after a merger has taken place or when an economic recession grips the economy. This is evidenced by the sheer number of workers who job hop regularly. The economic fortunes of a company are more tenuous today as well. For example, look at the Hudson Foods scare, where E.Coli bacteria was found in meat processed by this firm. This resulted in an expensive recall of processed meat, ultimately resulting in the company being sold to another corporation. One can only wonder if the owners of Hudson Foods received a fair price for their company! Consider also the number of jobs that were lost after Wells Fargo Corporation acquired First Interstate Bank Corp. and the former began downsizing the product of the two combined organizations. These are just two of many examples one could cite.

Civility in business is lacking.

Civility in competition between business existed in the 60's when I was growing up. Rarely did one see a business deprecating its competition in advertisements during that era. Today, one hears it on a daily basis. A case in point is the current burger war between McDonald's and Burger King. The tatter introduced a burger that is very similar to one marketed by McDonald's and has been advertising that "the Big King is better than the Big Mac because it's bigger and more tasty." Back then, this was just not done. The competitor was simply referred to as "brand X"

Freemasonry in prospective.

As Masons, we are all aware of what Freemasonry represents and what it teaches. I need not reiterate them here. Our ceremonies are beautiful and the lessons taught in them are great. There is no doubt about this. However, look at modern life today. We have experienced a decline in civility, increase in crime, and a general lack of concern for others. Would this condition exist today if our fraternity were as powerful and influential as it was years ago? That, unfortunately, is a question that none of us can really answer. We would all hope that the answer is a resounding "no." We must all attempt to find a way to make Freemasonry relevant and applicable to our fellow man in today's society. Failure to do this will mean Freemasonry's eventual extinction in future years.

Masonic Renewal Success is a

journey, not a destination

A lot has changed in the United States in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, we in the Masonic Fraternity were not paying attention to these changes over those many years. One of the great things we have established in the fraternity, which is long overdue, is a Masonic Renewal Plan. We are attempting to define Freemasonry as it applies to society today. No longer is it possible for us to continue doing things as they have been done in the past. Today, we must identify benefits that we can confer on our new members, find new ways to satisfy their needs for associating with their fellow men, and new ways to benefit new Masons' families and their communities. Do we know what these needs are and how to fulfill them? After all, isn't this what we are really "selling" in our Masonic "store"? The only way we will be able to restore Masonry to its former position of respect in society is through hard work, good public relations, and providing solutions to the needs of today's society. We have some very capable brothers behind this effort, along with some very talented professionals to help us implement the plans. My prayers are that these efforts will pay off. However, the results will be hard won and will certainly come slowly. We must remember that true success is a journey and not a destination. There is no such thing as instant success in any field. We all must do the best we can if we want to preserve the rich heritage of our fraternity for those who will follow us in the years to come.

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John Hunt Morgan

Three Years To Greeneville

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By Joseph E. Bennett, FPS-Part I

The rank and file of our public school children are not taught, nor are aware, of the dimensions of the great struggle history knows as the American Civil War. It raged from 1861 to 1865, during the bloodiest years in our history. The struggle claimed an entire generation of our young men, to whom it must have seemed at times to be the Armageddon prophesied in the Bible. The war demanded military service from roughly ten per cent of a population which at the 1860 census tallied 31,443,321.

The schism which tore our society apart was so vast that it has never healed completely. During the conflict, over two and a half million Union soldiers battled approximately one quarter of that number fighting for the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy. Totally outnumbered numerically, and overwhelmed economically, the South did enjoy some compensations. The Confederate Army was staffed with the cream of the trained officer corps formerly holding commissions in the United States Army. Among the advantages in the border states were their legendary guerrilla leaders - the partisan raiders.

Four of those fabled southern commanders galloped across the pages of Civil War history like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Certainly that was the image they projected among the Union sympathizers where they rode. Prominent among those immortal names from long ago were Generals J. B. Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest, Colonel John Singleton Mosby, and General John Hunt Morgan. In this profile, we focus on the illustrious Morgan, a southern cavalier who did not survive the war.

The Morgan clan were among the scions of antebellum aristocracy in

Kentucky and Alabama. They had impeccable credentials stemming from the earliest days of the nation. James Morgan, their common ancestor, arrived in the Massachusetts Colony in 1636. One of his descendants, Luther Morgan, migrated to Huntsville, Alabama, hoping to establish a prosperous business near the therapeutic sulfur springs south of the town. He was the grandfather of John Hunt Morgan. By 1806, Luther's mercantile and cotton trade at Huntsville was flourishing. He expanded in 1815, and took his sons into the business, one of whom was Calvin, John's father. None of the Morgan clan could foresee the decline of the economic boom generated by the catastrophic tailspin in the cotton market.

By 1819, Calvin was operating an apothecary in Huntsville and courting the beautiful 17-year-old Henrietta Hunt of Lexington. She was the daughter of John Wesley Hunt, a pillar of wealth and society in Lexington, Kentucky, and a stiff, unbending aristocrat Henrietta, albeit pretty and popular, was molded of the same steel as her

powerful father. Many were convinced that the personable and popular Calvin Morgan had attained his crowning achievement when the elder Hunt found Calvin qualified to marry his daughter. Henrietta would become dominant partner in the marriage. Their vows were consummated

dual ceremony at Christ Episcopal Church in Lexington on September 24, 1823. Calvin's twin brother, Alexander, took America Higgins as a bride a same time.

John Hunt Morgan was born to Henrietta and Calvin on June 1, 1825, their first child. Calvin Morgan continued his financial struggle in Huntsville until John Wesley Hunt stepped in to resolve all the money problems, and protect his daughter from any possible hardship. Hunt informed Calvin that he was to manage one of his farms in Lexington. Calvin submitted without a murmur. He loaded Henrietta and the four children in two wagons, along with their household goods, and set out for Lexington. John, five years old at the time, was followed by Calvin, and infant twins, Catherine and Ann. They were provided a large home on a 300 acre farm on Creek Road, on the outskirts of Lexington. The community always assumed Calvin owned farm, and he enjoyed all the social amenities accorded a prosperous land owner. However, the deed remained the name of John Wesley Hunt, Calvin was paid a manager's salary.

John grew to be a strong, athletic preferring hunting and sports to academic pursuits. Otherwise, his younger years were uneventful. A cholera epidemic took the twin sisters in 1833, but the arrival of six more Morgan children at regular intervals assuaged Henrietta's grief after a while. The siblings born at Lexington included another Catherine, Charlton, Richard, Henrietta, Thomas, and the baby, Francis Key, born in 1845.

Calvin began to deteriorate physically, and by 1838, was chronically ill. He was held in high esteem in Lexington society greeted by one and all as "Colonel Morgan", thanks to a title emanating from a militia rank held years earlier. Calvin died in 1854, with little disruption in the family's financial status. Henrietta had inherited much of John Wesley Hunt's estate when he demised in 1849.

John Hunt Morgan was 17 when he was enrolled at prestigious Transylvania University in 1842. He was not distinguished by his scholastic achievements, although he did join the Adelphi Society, a literary organization at the university. John adapted quite readily to the social life at college, becoming something of a prankster, and occasionally engaged in a little brawling. He had a pathological aversion to public speaking, and never spoke from the lectern of the Adelphi Society. In 1844, young Morgan managed to become involved in a duel with another student, William L Blanchard. The faceoff on "the field of honor" resulted in little physical damage to either contestant, and the college handled disciplinary action. In John's case, as the aggressor, he was suspended for the balance of the academic year. He stomped away and never returned.

His education over, Morgan applied for a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps in September, 1845. Although well recommended, few openings existed, and the appointment was not forthcoming. Determined to be involved in some sort of military activity, John enlisted as a private in Company K of a local volunteer cavalry unit at Lexington. They were mobilized on June 4, 1846, and Morgan's company marched off to the Mexican War. The mustering-in formality took place in Louisville, where John was elected a second lieutenant. Almost immediately, he was elevated to first lieutenant~ second in command of the 78-man unit. His Uncle Alexander Morgan, in a burst of patriotism, enlisted as a private in the same company.

Before leaving Kentucky. John Hunt Morgan received his Masonic degrees in a military lodge. The Grand Master's elocution and report at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky on August 11, 1846, contained confirmation of Most Worship Brother William Holloway's dispensation to Brother B. HUI Sturgis and "others" to establish a military lodge for Kentucky volunteers. The list of those receiving the degrees between June 1 and June 3, 1846, included the name of John Hunt Morgan. He was enrolled as a member of Davies & Nelson Lodge No. 22, with all fees waived. Many members of the Morgan family were active Masons, and so was John to the end of his life.

After a debilitating march overland to San Antonio, Texas, John and his men eventually arrived in Camargo, Mexico, as part of Colonel Humphrey Marshall's First Kentucky Regiment of Mounted Volunteers. In Mexico, they joined up with the army of General Zachary Taylor on November 19,1846. Morgan saw major combat duty at the battle of Buena Vista on February 22 ' 1847, at which American forces were victorious over a vastly superior Mexican army. Among the American casualties that day was Uncle Alexander Morgan, run through by a Mexican lancer.

The returning veterans of the Mexican War were received in Lexington on June 19, 1847 to a tumultuous welcome. Morgan had been mustered out in New Orleans on June 7th, but he was convinced he should try again to obtain a regular army commission and become a career officer. Once more, his request was declined. Accepting the fact that the military was not to be his profession, John decided to go into business with his close friend, Sanders Bruce. Borrowing some money from his mother, John and Sanders purchased several slaves and began to hire them out to haul hemp, corn, and lumber. They also began to dabble in breeding and training blooded horses. Morgan was an expert rider, and a keen judge of horseflesh. Eventually, the partners had some success racing their own stock. John soon became a serious gambler, wagering substantial sums on races.

Morgan met and began courting Sanders' sister, Rebecca Gratz Bruce. She was a pretty, but frail, 18-year-old. In 1848, John was a prominent and eligible young man in Lexington social circles. His six foot, broad-shouldered frame was well proportioned at 185 pounds. Exceedingly handsome, with gleaming white teeth, blue-gray eyes, and sandy hair, john was congenial and extremely likable. Nobody was surprised when Rebecca and John announced their wedding date would be November 21, 1848.

Expanding his business horizons soon after he and Rebecca married, John and his brother Calvin purchased an old hemp and woolen factory and began to manufacture bags, jeans, and linsey-woolsey products. At first, it was a profitable venture, and Morgan was able to support a very elegant lifestyle. During 1853, Rebecca gave birth, following an extremely difficult pregnancy. The child died shortly after birth, and Rebecca remained in poor health. Before long, she became chronically ill with a condition diagnosed as "milk leg", a circulatory blockage in one extremity. Today, it is known as septic thrombophlebitis. She was eventually confined to her bed, following the amputation of the infected leg.

In 1852, John had helped to organize an artillery company which was attached to the 42nd Regiment of the State Militia. He held the rank of captain, and worked diligently to train his unit. He was disappointed when the state legislature declared the militia inactive, deeming it no longer necessary. Ignoring the legislature, a volunteer movement began in Lexington, and by 1857, Morgan was commanding a well trained infantry company they called the "Lexington Rifles". A depression in the hemp and woolen business curtailed Morgan's manufacturing enterprise by 1860. Times were uncertain, as talk of secession and war became the main topics of conversation. In April, 1861, war became a reality.

Kentucky was a border state, claiming neutrality-, so John did not rush to arms immediately. In addition, Rebecca's condition had declined seriously, and on July 21, 1861, she passed away. The battle of Bull Run was fought the same day. The population of Lexington was bitterly divided in their sympathies. Many of the State Guard were loyal to the South, including the Adjutant-General, Simon Bolivar Buckner. In Lexington, Morgan and the majority of the Lexington Rifles were pro-South. When it became obvious that Kentucky would side with the Union in the Civil War, Morgan and over half the Kentucky Rifles abandoned Lexington on the night of September 20, 1861. They rendezvoused in a wooded area south of the city near Bardstown, which they christened "Camp Charity". Morgan smuggled their rifles out of Lexington in two hay wagons and shipped boxes loaded with bricks to the railroad depot, marked for shipment to the state armory.

At Camp Charity the defectors joined with Captain John Wickliffe's company of State Guards. By common consent, John was elected captain of the entire complement. They departed Camp Charity on September Keith, marching two days and nights to join with the Second Kentucky Infantry Regiment under Colonel Roger W. Hansen, headquartered on the Green River. Passing through Mumfordsville, Basil Duke joined them, destined to be Morgan's famous second-in-command.John was riding the outstanding black mare who would gain everlasting fame as "Black Bess". The sturdy mount had been obtained from her breeder, Warren Viley.

For the next few weeks, John and a group of volunteers conducted scouting excursions through the countryside. They ranged as far as 60 miles gathering intelligence on Union troop activity. Since they were not formally sworn into military service, Morgan and his men were legally guerrilla raiders. It was a label Union sympathizers always applied to his activities, considering Morgan a murderer and an outlaw. However, labels never bothered the handsome partisan a great deal.

When orders were received for Colonel Hansen and the Second Kentucky Infantry to report to Bowling Green, Morgan and his men rode along. They were sworn into the Confederate Army on October 27, 1861, and Morgan became a captain of cavalry. Basil Wilson Duke was commissioned a first lieutenant. Duke, a former St. Louis attorney, had married John's sister, Henrietta, in Lexington on June 19, 1861; thus he and John were best friends. As a matter of fact, Morgan's sister Catherine had married Ambrose Powell Hill in 1859. General Hill would rise to fame as a Confederate division commander and die a few days before Appomattox, during the final Union assault t Petersburg. The Morgan family included many distinguished family members in Confederate service, among then all of John's brothers except Key, the youngest.

John Hunt Morgan was a military non-conformist who never fared well under the restrictions of garrison life. His entire career was a litany of policy violations or the most liberal interpretation possible. John was focused on his own agenda. He was reckless and daring, and his audacity

knew no bounds. To all appearances Morgan was indifferent to his own safety, but constantly aware of the welfare of his men. He was friendly and informal in his relations with the troops, and they reciprocated with total loyalty.

In action, Morgan's countenance took on a glow of inspiration which gave the appearance of one who had received an injection of super-energy. Capable of amazing endurance in the saddle, he was the quintessential guerrilla leader, screaming the rebel yell as he stormed into a town at the head of his shouting troops. Evert man selected wearing apparel of his own choosing. With Morgan, it was often civilian garb or the uniform of a Federal officer. Confusion and decption were valuable weapons for Morgan. Early in his career, he enlisted the services of George Ellsworth, a Canadian-born telegrapher, an absolute genius with the key. He kept the Union troops in constant confusion with bogus transmissions. Morgan also was privy to countless military orders and intelligence intercepted in transmission. While squatting in a water-filled ditch one day during a storm, Ellsworth was transmitting with a hand-held key. Lightning struck the tap sparked off the device in his hand providing a spectacular and violent display. From then on, he was "Lightning" Ellsworth.

Shortly after Morgan was taken into the Confederate Army, he was unleashed in Kentucky with carte blanche authority to raid and disrupt Union military activity. Towns and villages all over the state were targets for Morgan's partisan raids. No small Union garrison was safe, nor any supply train. Scores of raids against the L & N Railroad, and the millions of dollars of damage the raiders inflicted was a catastrophic problem for the Union. The plundered military stores, burned bridges, and overall destruction were beyond calculation, and immobilized thousands of Federal troops in the border states while the Confederacy prepared for offensive action. When Grant captured the Confederate Fort Donelson in early February, 1862, with the surrender of 15,000 troops, Morgan's exploits were the only happy news for the borderland southerners. John Hunt Morgan was good press, and the newspapers responded with tremendous coverage of all his activities. On February 27th, Morgan moved into new headquarters at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

At Murfreesboro, Morgan was soon an invited dinner guest to the home of the town's most distinguished citizen, Colonel Charles Ready, a wealthy planter and former Congressman. John met one of the colonel's daughters to whom he was immediately attracted. She was Martha, called "Mattie" by all who knew her. A romance began almost immediately, and by March 19th, their engagement was formally announced. By that time, the Morgan raiders had descended on Gallatin, Tennessee, intent on burning the L & N RR depot, and disrupting traffic over the line. They burned all the rail cars, and headed the only engine down track under full steam with safety valves wired shut. It exploded after traveling 800 yards. With help from the citizens, they burned the L & N water tower and departed.. When they left town, a large group of admirers followed Morgan for several miles.

On April 6, 1862, General Albert S. Johnston and his army met General Grant at Shiloh, Tennessee in an early major battle in the western theater. It ended with a great loss of life on both sides, with inconclusive results. The Union counted 15,000 casualties while the Confederate score stood at 10,000. Morgan and his command took part in the battle, their first and only role in a conventional major action. Morgan, newly-promoted to colonel on April 4th, was in reserve with General John C. Breckinridge until being ordered into line about 1:00 P.M. Assaulting the line on Breckinridge's right, Morgan's men fought well and pushed the Union forces back slowly. They lost all semblance of order, and both sides were hopelessly intermingled for a time, before the Union troops withdrew. Morgan was clearly out of his element in a large battle, and it did not escape his superiors. The raider chief had already garnered a reputation as a poor team player. Morgan was assigned rear guard duty during the Confederate withdrawal next day, and rendered valuable service protecting vital supplies. In the process, Morgan's men inflicted many Union casualties. The combat reports from General Beauregard and Breckinridge commended Morgan's men for overall valor during the entire battle of Shiloh. Not the least of the Confederate casualties was General Albert S. Johnston, killed on April 6th. Command passed to General Beauregard.

Subsequent skirmishes and raids conducted by John H. Morgan and his men were too frequent to discuss in any detail in these pages. Wth some exceptions, we shall dwell on the major raids he conducted. Nevertheless, his constant attacks numbered in the hundreds, and inflicted enormous cost to the Union. The sacking of civilian retail stores and businesses did not become frequent until 1863, along with acts of retaliation against unfriendly civilians or Union troops. Generally speaking, Morgan's raiding activity pinned down about 30,000 Union troops far into 1863, and doomed General Don Carlos Buell's dreams of a major offensive. Morgan did lose Black Bess after being surprised by Union troops at Lebanon, Tennessee on May 6th. In a disorganized retreat from the town, he was forced to abandon his beloved mount on the shore of the Cumberland River. She. was turned over to Union General Ebenezer Dumont. Morgan never saw her again.

On July 4,1862, Morgan marched out of Knoxville with 900 men on his first great Kentucky raid. When he returned on July 28th, he had added 300 new recruits to his force and had covered 1,000 miles in a long series of very fruitful incursions. Morgan's report related that he captured 17 towns, destroying all government supplies he could not use or carry, disbursed 1,500 local militiamen, and paroled 1,500 regular Union troops. They captured 300 horses in Cynthiana, Kentucky, and immobilized all meaningful Union activity in the state. Some of the towns hit during the famous lightning strikes included Lebanon, Springfield, Frankfort, Georgetown, Cynthiana, Paris, Richmond, Somerset, Monticello, and more - all in Kentucky. In some respects it was the most productive of Morgan's career - with the least cost in terms of casualties.

The partisan raiders performed an invaluable service for the South on August 12, 1862. Morgan swooped down again on Gallatin, Tennessee at daylight and caught Union Colonel William P. Boone in bed, along with his entire command. The raiders captured everyone without a shot being fired. Of more importance was the destruction of the twin tunnels on the L & N RR north of Gallatin. Morgan seized a train, loaded it with lumber, applied the torch, and drove it inside the tunnel. The resulting fire destroyed all the supporting timbers and the entire structure collapsed. The L & N RR was out of action for three months, north of Gallatin, awaiting repairs to be completed. At Gallatin, Morgan's troops were involved in the first incidents of looting; and robbing of civilian banks, a practice which accelerated in the coming months. Morgan's men were without any strict discipline, often committing infractions beyond the normal parameters of conventional warfare. On that raid Morgan announced his policy of retaliation.

General Braxton Bragg was still in command of the Department of Tennessee in September, 1862. Morgan had assured him that, given an opportunity, all of Kentucky would rally to the Confederacy. That was an area where Morgan consistently mistook his own popularity as a sign that hordes of volunteers were waiting to join the South. Bragg was bitterly disappointed when Morgan returned from his great Kentucky raid in July without any discernible recruiting success. Bragg never trusted Morgan again, but he was well aware that the great raider commander was the darling of the press, with a host of friends in high places. He stopped short of breaking openly with Morgan.

On September 4th, Morgan met General Kirby Smith at Lexington, the first time the famed raider had been home since he had fled the city in September, 1861 to join the Confederacy. He was given the welcome of a prodigal son, and set up his headquarters at Hopemont, the family mansion. Among the many gifts showered on the famous general was a thoroughbred gelding named "Glencoe", a gift from his friend, Keene Richards.

On December 7, 1862, John Hunt Morgan was promoted to brigadier general. The notification did not reach him until December 14th, the day of his marriage to Mattie Ready in Murfreesboro. It was a gala event, marred only by the knowledge that the raiders were obliged to ride out on their famous Christmas raid on December 22nd. The day prior to Morgan's departure, Mattie stood beside the general at Alexandria, Tennessee for the regimental review.

John rode out of Alexandria the next morning with a force of 4, 000 men. It would be a march covering 500 miles in 14 days. Morgan struck at the railroad bridges at Bacon Creek and Nolin Creek on December 26th, pounding the Union defenders into submission with his two artillery pieces. After burning the bridges, they tore up the railroad track to Elizabethtown where 652 men of the 91st Illinois Infantry were garrisoned. Before long, the Union troops surrendered, and looting began shortly thereafter. Boots and overcoats were stripped from the prisoners and the retail stores were cleaned out. The ragged rebel raiders paid shopkeepers in worthless Confederate currency. Morgan himself confiscated $1,200 worth of silk and other items, and paid for it in the same worthless tender. On December 28th, Morgan turned to the L & N RR trestles north of Elizabethtown. The artillery shelling quickly forced the blockhouse defenders to surrender, and both bridges were destroyed. The raiders had taken so many prisoners they were writing paroles for troops of the 71st Indiana Infantry for the second time in less than a year.

General William S. Rosecrans, who had succeeded General Buell as Union department commander, committed thousands of troops to trap Morgan. The wily raider chief eluded the Union net and arrived safely behind Confederate lines on January 2, 1863. Upon arrival, Morgan learned that Rosecrans and his army had engaged General Braxton Bragg at the battle of Stone's River (Murfreesboro) on December 3 1, 1862. The fighting was fierce and the issue unresolved at the end of the first day. A respite on January Ist was followed with the resumption of fighting the next day. It resulted in the decisive defeat of General Breckinridge's division; although both lines were intact as darkness fell. Bragg ordered a withdrawal on January 3rd, over the objection of his senior commanders; and retreated to new headquarters in Winchester, Tennessee. Bragg sustained 12,000 casualties. After the catastrophic losses at Murfreesboro, the word of John Hunt Morgan's brilliant Christmas raid was intoxicating news to the South. On May 1, 1863, over the disapproval of General Bragg, the Confederate legislature passed a resolution of gratitude to Morgan for his success on his most recent excursion.

Marriage soon exerted a negative effect on General Morgan. Completely devoted to Mattie, they spent every possible moment together. He was despondent whenever they were separated, and wrote to her constantly. During the late winter of 1863, he was distracted from his normal duties with preoccupation over his new bride. As a result, the obsession influenced his military decisions, and he began to display uncharacteristic caution over high-risk ventures. His decision were often paradoxical. General Morgan might opt for frontal assault in a situation where he would usually employ a hit-and-run strike against a vulnerable concentration of troops. Now, he seemed intent on proving to Mattie

that he was indeed the great hero the South believed him to be. Concern for the welfare of his men declined noticeably. They suffered a great deal from the severe winter of 1862-63, while the general and his bride honeymooned in comparative luxury. Spring was a welcome relief for Morgan's men.

Morgan was at the forward Confederate line at Liberty, Tennessee on March, 19, 1863, when he learned that 2,000-4,000 Union troops from Murfreesboro were only a few miles away. General Morgan and his brigade moved forward on March 20th, planning to strike a decisive surprise blow. While Morgan's chief of scouts, Captain Thomas Quirk, circled around to harass the Union rear, Morgan ordered his main force of 2,000 to make a frontal assault on the Federals. They were under the command of Colonel Albert S. Hall. The Yankees dug in on the high ground, with many natural obsticles on the slope in front of their defence line. Morgan's men were cut to pieces by heavy grape and canister in a bloody assault against a very well-entrenched enemy. They continued the hopless effort until they ran out of ammunition about an hour. They were obliged to break off the attack. It had been their most difficult skirmish of the war, and the cost was high. Morgan suffered 15 per cent casualties, many of whom were officers. News of his defeat spread rapidly through both armies, and his lack of combat readiness became common knowledge. For the first time, Morgan was absorbing severe criticism.

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John Hunt Morgan

Three Years To Greeneville Part II

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By Joseph F. Bennett, FPS - Part II

By mid-April, Rosecrans was ready with plans to raid Morgan's headquarters at McMinnville, determined to kill or capture the elusive raider. He committed 6,000 men to the venture. At 1:00 P.M. April 19, 1863, General Reynold? Union cavalry stormed into McMinnville eight abreast. Taken completely by surprise, Morgan and his command scattered in a demoralized rout. The Union invaders applied the torch, to the railroad depot, all railroad rolling stock, 30,000 pounds of bacon; and before retiring, everything else of a military nature. General William J. Hardee wrote to General Joseph E. Johnson, the new commander of the Department of Tennessee, recommending that he meet and counsel General Morgan about his problems. It was a bad time for the great partisan commander. Morgan's command was in sorry condition and deteriorating daily. His reputation had sustained a great deal of damage, and he was desperate to redeem himself

After collecting his scattered command at Liberty, Tennessee, he sought permission to organize a raid into Kentucky with the, 2,800 men he had assembled. He was denied permission to cross the Ohio River, which he had requested, but received grudging approval to make a limited raid into Kentucky. Morgan was ordered to make Louisville his first target. General Morgan was authorized to take 2,000 men on the raid. They rode out with 2,500.

Morgan had been less than candid with his superiors. He fully intended to strike for the Ohio River and cross into Indiana, and an attack on Louisville was not in his plan. He had concocted what is considered by historians to be a wild-eyed impossible scheme, but Morgan had built his reputation on achieving impossible goals. In this instance, even his own officers thought the plan incredible.

Mattie was pregnant now, and John was grieved to leave her side, but in mid-June, he rode out of Alexandria, heading north. Early summer rains had reduced the roads to a quagmire, and progress was slow. Morgan was not across the Cumberland River until June 20th. Progress was impeded by heavy resistance from Union detachments. On July 4th, 1863, they were at Lebanon, Kentucky, where they were facing the 20th Kentucky Infantry defending the town. Frontal assault failed, and Morgan ordered the town put to the torch. The stubborn Union troops resisted six hours before surrendering. Victory came at great personal cost for Morgan. His brother, Tom, was killed in the final assault. In a monumental rage, Morgan ordered 20 public and private buildings burned to the ground.

The Union army was totally mystified about General Morgan's destination. It was a distinct advantage for the raiders. At 7:00 A.M. on July 8,1863, Morgan's command marched into Brandenburg, Kentucky at the Ohio River. They crossed between mid-morning and midnight the same day, ferrying troops and horses over on two captured river steamboats, the "John T. McCombs" and the "Alice Dean".

Between July 9th and 18th, they followed the north bank of the Ohio River eastward toward the Ohio border, burning everything of military value in their path in the way of bridges, railway depots, and supplies. The guerrillas looted civilian business establishments, robbing every dollar they could locate. They extracted high ransoms from some business owners in exchange for not burning their properties. The citizens of Indiana were terrified, and every local militia was called to arms. Governor Morton of Indiana managed to have 65,000 citizens under arms within 48 hours. A potential bushwacker seemed to lurk in every thicket; and Morgan was surprised by the hostility of the citizens. No doubt he was unaware that the newspapers had created an image of a plundering, murdering marauder. Although easily scattered, the Indiana militias harassed constantly.

The entry into Ohio was a historic 32-hour march of 95 miles, by-passing Cincinnati by circling to the north and riding southeast until the city was safely behind. Historians regard it as one of the most amazing movements in the Civil War. Morgan, was convinced he was well in advance of any pursuit from the Union regulars, but local resistance was stiffening all along the line of march.

When he stopped in Jackson, Ohio, some of his raiders broke into the Masonic temple and emerged wearing degree regalia. Furious, Morgan ordered the property returned without damage to the premises. On the afternoon of July 18, 1863, General Morgan arrived at Portland, 20 miles from the ford in the Ohio River at Buffington Island. To that point, the raid had been amazingly successful, albeit without substantial military value. Certainly the great Morgan had the rapt attention of all America. The newspaper chronicled every move he made, and the country eagerly scanned each word.

Overconfidence made Morgan careless, and he failed to deploy pickets on the night of the 18th. Across the Ohio River lay West Virginia and safety. Actually General Edward H. Hobson was closing in rapidly. In addition, recent rains had raised the river to near flood stage, and two river gunboats were able to anchor off Buffington Island during the night and train their guns on Morgan's exhausted troops. The Union cavalry surrounded the Morgan camp, and attacked at dawn. Under murderous fire from the attackers and artillery fire from the gunboats, Morgan's command was in dire straits. Morgan and 1,400 of his command stormed out of the trap, while Colonel Basil Duke and Colonel D. Howard Smith continued to battle the Union attackers with their units. They surrendered at 4:00 P.M. , with a total of 800 men laying down arms. Upsteam 14 miles, Morgan and his men attempted a river crossing. Morgan turned back when he realized the majority were not going to make it. Only 300 continued to the West Virginia shore and safety.

Morgan and the remnants of his command galloped northward toward Nelsonville and Cambridge, Ohio. The chase lasted for a week before General Morgan finally surrendered his exhausted raider force to General James M. Shackleford on Sunday, July 26, 1863, about six miles southeast of Lisbon, Ohio. Over half his command, reduced to 384, were sick or wounded. They were utterly exhausted. The ride had taken them within 90 miles of Lake Erie, the most northerly rebel penetration of the Civil War.

The foolhardy venture and the historic pursuit, ending in Morgan's capture, erased all negative sentiment surrounding his image. He was heralded as "A Southern Palladin", a super-hero who had performed the greatest feats of derring-do in the war. It mattered little that Morgan ended up in Ohio's State Penitentiary in Columbus, treated like a common criminal. He and his filthy, ragged raiders were bathed in a common tub, had their heads shaved, and were locked in iron cells seven feet long and three and a half feet wide.

During the day, the cells were open and the prisoners, 68 of them, were permitted the freedom of the cell-block corridor. The military prisoners were separated from the rest of the prison population, but guarded by the penitentiary staff. After a time, Morgan realized that there was no hope that he would be exchanged for any Union officer being held in a Confederate prison. He made up his mind to escape, prepared to risk everything to be reunited with Mattie. Morgan's first step was to persuade the army to take over security of the military prisoners. He was successful, and Union soldiers were sent to the penitentiary to serve as provost guards. The events that followed reveal incredible laxity in prison security, with the possibility that individuals other than prisoners assisted in escape preparations.

Morgan learned that an air vent, four feet square, ran directly under his row of cells on the ground floor. An 18-inch concrete floor covered the vent. Morgan enlisted six men occupying adjoining cells in the plan. Captain Thomas H. Hines planned the escape, and was elected to begin chipping the first hole through the concrete floor in his cell. The work began on November 4th. With kitchen utensils spirited from the mess hall, the conspirators worked in shifts, depositing concrete dust in the cell block stove ash bin, and carrying the balance out in their pockets. That was disposed of when they were outside the cell block for meals. Hines pulled his bed over the hole when they were not working. Inasmuch as normal housekeeping duties had ceased in the military cell block, the prisoners were told to clean their own cells. Unbelievable as it sounds, nobody, noticed the work nor detected the hole in the floor of Hines' cell, which was 14 inches in diameter. After breaking through into the air vent, they began to chip a similar hole from the under side of the floor in each of the other six cells. They left a thin layer of concrete intact in the cell floor, to be broken through when the escape was made. Finally, they dug through the outer wall from the air vent, and up to ground level.

Planning to leave blankets on their beds stuffed to resemble men sleeping, Morgan and his six conspirators awaited a stormy night when the yard guard dogs would be kept indoors. The rain came on the night of November 24, 1863, and the escape began. Dropping into the air vent, the seven men changed into civilian clothes smuggled into the prison, along with enough money to sustain them after they were outside. Throwing a hook and rope over the outer prison wall, they climbed to freedom and scattered into the night. Morgan and Captain Hines remained together and headed for the railroad station, where they boarded a train bound for Cincinnati at 1:30 A.M., November 25th. During the flight, Mattie's baby was born on November 27th and died immediately thereafter, but Morgan did not learn that until much later.

A subsequent investigation of the escape failed to shed any light on the event or any evidence of bribery or corruption on the part of prison officials or guards. Even today, there is conjecture over the circumstances of the daring escape. Thanks to assistance from southern sympathizers along the escape route, Morgan and Hines were able to reach Confederate lines, but became separated before the end of the journey. General John Hunt Morgan reached Franklin, North Carolina on December 23 1863.

The entire south was electrified with joy by news of the escape.

On January 7, 1864, John and Mattie arrived in Richmond to be lavishly honored by the great names of the Confederacy. They were quartered in a luxurious suite at the Ballard House (hotel). Among the dozens of distinguished visitors was General J.E.B. Stuart, the great cavalry commander. Not everyone was overjoyed at Morgan's return. General Braxton Bragg was in favor of court-martialing him for dereliction of duty, but was overruled by Adjutant-General Samuel Cooper.

Morgan was determined to assemble his old command and resume raiding activity. On January 25th, permission was granted by Secretary of War Steddon, with orders to assemble his raiders at Abington, Virginia. General Simon B. Buckner, then in command of the Department of Tennessee, assisted in gathering those of Morgan's old brigade who could be located. Morgan was given two additional battalions from Decatur, Georgia, one mounted, the other dismounted. Many were green troops, totally unfamiliar with guerrilla warfare tactics. There were also many who were dregs of the army, thieves, bummers, and stragglers. All of the troops were poorly disciplined producing a weak caricature of the partisan command of Morgan's glory days.

In April, 1864, Mattie became pregnant again. During the month more troops were assigned to Morgan, swelling his total strength to 2,500. He struggled to whip his command into shape in anticipation of the Union offensive which would begin at any time. Morgan was soon ordered to proceed to Wytheville, Virginia to protect the lead and salt mines there. He arrived on May 1 Ith, to combine his force with that of General William E. "Grumble" Jones, to intercept Union General William W. Averell at Crockett's Cove. With a combined strength of 4,500 men, Jones made a frontal assault, while Morgan flanked Averell's force, driving the Federal troops off in full retreat. Morgan detached his force immediately and began a march toward Kentucky. The raiders destroyed any target of opportunity as they moved northward through Pound Gap, but were seriously impeded by the dismounted troops. Upon their arrival at Hazel Green, Morgan left his dismounted men, and moved on to Mt. Sterling, arriving on June 8, 1864. He easily captured the Union garrison and 380 prisoners. The raiders looted clothing and inventory from the retail businesses, and robbed the Farmers Bank of $72,000. The raiders also extracted considerable blackmail money from the residents, extorted to keep their homes from being burned. The infractions at Mt. Sterling were immediately added to the long list of pending charges against Morgan. While at Mt. Sterling, he shrugged off a report that a Union column was threatening the lead and salt mines at Wytheville. He was intent on reaching Lexington.

Morgan arrived in Lexington at dawn on June 10th. Resistance was light, and the raiders immediately confiscated hundreds of Union cavalry horses with ease, before burning the stables. Others of Morgan's command were busy looting residential homes and the Bank of Kentucky of $10,000. They remained in the city only a short time, before pressing on. This visit home was very different than the one he had made in September, 1862. Riding hard, Morgan and his raiders were in Georgetown, Kentucky by noon, and took time to do some more looting. They were gone by nightfall, marching toward Cynthiana. They arrived at daybreak on June 11th. The small Union garrison took refuge in houses and store buildings and refused to surrender. The general ordered the town burned, and they capitulated. Union General Edward Hobson and 600 militia rode into Cynthiana at 2:00 P.M. to rescue the besieged local garrison, but they too were surrounded and captured.

General Hobson knew that General Stephen G. Burbridge was riding in pursuit of Morgan, and contrived to keep the raider chief involved in negotiations for a prisoner exchange of Confederate troops held in Ohio (Morgan's). Fortunately, General Morgan knew of Burbridge's pursuit, but he exercised exceedingly rash judgement in preparing for their arrival.

When informed that one of his brigades had only two rounds of ammunition per man, Morgan replied, "It is my order that you hold your position at all hazards. We can whip them with empty guns." At 2:00 P.M., Sunday, June 12, 1864, Burbridge hit Morgan's line. Giltner's brigade in the center broke and fled immediatly, out of ammunition. Smith's brigade followed suit. It was every man for himself, with Morgan leading the chaotic retreat, fleeing alone toward Falmouth, Kentucky. On August 3rd, Morgan was back in Abington with Mattie, with his reputation in tatters by the irresponsible looting of his motley raiders, and the disastrous retreat from Cynthiana. The newspapers, however, sang Morgan's praises for a "brilliantly successful" incursion.

Morgan's superiors were far from enthusiastic over the results of the raid. Bragg and Secretary of War Seddon had predicted he would straggle back into Abington with a handful of survivors unfit for service, and that is precisely what occurred. Morgan had engaged on an unauthorized adventure, and abandoned Grumble Jones without permission. Jones was killed defending Staunton, Virginia on June 5th, and the entire valley campaign was put in jeopardy as a result.

The Confederate situation was desperate in the summer of 1864. Morgan was a reluctant choice to succeed General Buckner as the commander of the Department of West Virginia and East Tennessee. It was intended to be only temporary in Morgan's case. Another 700 men straggled back to Abington, but many refused to return to duty, terming themselves "Independent scouts." Morgan was under General R.E. Lee's jurisdiction in his new assignment. As inadequately equipped as Morgan was, Lee was compelled to remind him that he held the responsibility for the protection of the salt and lead mines at Wytheville. Lee was gentle and diplomatic, but he had no false illusions; knowing that the raider chief was a poor team player.

Morgan countered Lee's admonishment with a request to make a raid into Charleston, West Virginia. In Knoxville, Tennessee, fate was moving the chessmen to set the stage for the final chapter of John Hunt Morgan's career. The military governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson, held a long festering grudge against Morgan because of the many humiliating depredations in his state. He wanted the Lexington raider dead or alive. Johnson had no troops subject to his own orders except the "Governor's Guard," a cavalry brigade commanded by the Adjutant-General, Alvan C. Gillem, a West Point graduate. Now was the time Governor Johnson chose to strike Morgan's , headquarters at Abington, Virginia. General Gillem was at Bull's Gap on August 30, 1864, before he halted to wait for supplies to catch up.

General Morgan was apprised of Gillem's advance and took the field to meet him before he arrived at Abington. On September 2nd, Morgan passed through Jonesboro, Tennessee, pushing on to Greeneville without delay. Ahead of his main body, Morgan entered Greeneville with his videttes at 2:00 P.M. on September 3rd. He was unaware of the orders which arrived at Abington after his departure. On August 31st, Secretary of War Seddon had issued orders removing Morgan from command, pending the outcome of a board of inquiry which had been called to ponder a laundry list of charges against the famed raider chief. Of first priority was a charge of dereliction of duty and disobedience in making his raid into Indiana and Ohio a year earlier. In addition, the $72,000 bank robbery at Mt. Sterling, plus the blackmailing of its citizens, was a high-priority problem which implicated Morgan because he had not investigated immediately after the crimes were committed.

The main body of Morgan's command arrived in Greeneville at 4:00 P.M. on September 3rd. He was aware that General Gillem was only 18 miles away at Bull's Gap, but Morgan was unconcerned. His staff bad arranged to make his headquarters at the mansion of the widow, Mrs. Catherine Williams, on Main Street. It had been used frequently during the war as headquarters for both Confederate and Union officers. Mrs. Williams claimed to be an enthusiastic southern sympathizer. She had two sons, one on Morgan's staff, and the other, Joseph Williams, a Union officer. His wife. Lucy lived with Mrs. Williams. In addition, a Captain R.N. Keenan, also a Union officer, was recuperating from wounds at the Williams home when Morgan and his staff arrived. Lucy had been apprehended a short time before Morgan arrived with a note she was trying to smuggle from Captain Keenan to General Gillem at Bull's Gap.

Lucy was missing when General Morgan arrived. When he inquired, he was told Lucy was buying watermelons at the College farm. No one investigated further. Morgan was likewise unaware that a 12-year-old Negro boy, James Leahy, was riding to inform General Gillem that Morgan and his troops were in the town. Those oversights, and other incredible lapses on Morgan's part, set the stage for the events which followed.

General Morgan ordered guards on every road leading into Greeneville except the Newport Road. Morgan was assigned the front bedroom on the second floor of the Williams mansion. His staff were given rooms on the third floor. Before retiring, Morgan left orders to post a strong force on the road leading into Greeneville from Bull's Gap. He disregarded the suggestion of his staff to bivouac with his men. Awakened after midnight by a violent rain storm, Morgan canceled his order to strengthen the Bull's gap approach. He went back to bed, convinced nothing would happen in such a storm. In spite of the storm, Gillem was moving toward Greeneville. Seven miles from the city, the Union troops stopped a Greeneville citizen fleeing the town in fear of being conscripted into Confederate service. He gave Gillem precise information about Morgan and his staff at the Williams home. Captain C.C. Wilcox, with a combat patrol of 200 men, moved toward Greenville soon afterward over the unguarded Newport Road. At dawn, Wilcox galloped into Greenville's Main Street four abreast, and his troopers immediately surrounded the Williams home. Union solders were everywhere in the streets.

Roused from his sleep, Morgan pulled on breeches and boots, snatched up two pistols and bolted for the front door with his staff They met heavy rifle fire exiting the front of the house. Morgan, with two of his staff, ran into the basement under St. James Episcopal Church next door. Morgan had refused his staff s suggestion they surrender. Handing a revolver to Captain James T. Rogers, he asked that he help him escape. Fearing he would be trapped under the church, Morgan bolted for the Williams garden nearby. Captain Rogers and a clerk, LT. Johnson, ran with him. From the window on the second floor of an old hotel across Main Street, a resident, Mrs. David Fry, a rural mail carrier, spied Morgan's white undershirt. She shouted directions to the Union searchers nearby, guiding them to Morgan.

Morgan was standing defenseless with an empty revolver when a mounted trooper rode up and leveled his rifle at the general. He was Private Andrew J. Campbell, a former soldier of Morgan's command who had deserted several months before. Campbell had enlisted in Company G of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry (Union). Morgan shouted, "Don't shoot, I surrender." Campbell responded, "Surrender and be damned. I know you. With that, he fired, the bullet striking Morgan in the heart. The general threw up his hands and moaned, "Oh, God!", and fell face down in the shubbery. He died almost instantly.

Campbell threw Morgan's body over his saddle and paraded it around town until he grew tired of the sport. He dumped the body into a ditch, remarking, "There he is, like a hog." It was told that Campbell wanted revenge for the treatment Captain Keenan received at Catherine Williams' home when he was caught trying to spirit a message out. Morgan was supposed to have had him thrown into the back of a wagon with the remark, "Haul him off like a hog."

Later, Captain Charles Withers of Morgan's staff testified that when he was led out of town as a prisoner, he was forced to dismount and view General Morgan's body lying in the ditch; nude, except for his drawers, with blood and mud covering his face. Withers added that when he protested the desecration of Morgan's body, General Alvan Gillem responded, "Ay, Sir, and it shall lie there and rot like a dog." Withers statement was denied by Union Colonel Scully, who was reported present at the scene. Scully claimed Gillem severely rebuked Private Campbell for his disgusting treatment of an officer's remains. He added that Gillem ordered Morgan's body be placed on an artillery caisson and carried to the Williams house. Eventually the remains arrived at the residence. The body of John Hunt Morgan was embalmed by a Greeneville undertaker, clothed in a dress uniform and ceremonial sword, and placed in a walnut coffin. Later, the remains were returned to Abington.

The controversy over the true facts surrounding Morgan's final hour of life began before his coffin arrived in Abington. The version related here was the one the South universally accepted as the truth. Many inflammatory editorials were printed all over the South, declaring it to be a true account. Naturally, those sympathetic to the Union had a far less barbaric version of Morgan's death. Mrs. Lucy Williams was universally accused of betraying Morgan, a charge she denied to her dying day. The stigma followed her to the grave, nevertheless. Private Campbell was promoted to first sergeant of Company G in a few days, and cited for "gallantry". A month later, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Mrs. David Fry, wife of a notorious bushwhacker, was found to have been restricted to town by Captain Giltner of Morgan's command. She held a simmering grudge against all rebels, it was concluded.

John Hunt Morgan's first funeral service was conducted at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Abington, Virginia. The body was then conveyed to Richmond to lie in state at the Confederate House of Representatives for several hours. Plans were to hold Morgan's coffin in an above-ground vault at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery until the war was over, when it could be returned to Lexington for interment. Mattie, two months pregnant, was not physically fit to accompany the general's remains to Richmond.

Mattie's baby was born full-term, a healthy girl she christened Johnnie, in honor of her famous father. Mattie returned to Murfreesboro to her family after the war ended. On March 21, 1868, Tom Morgan's body was brought home to Lexington to be held in a vault awaiting burial with John in the Hunt Morgan plot. General Morgan's remains arrived from Richmond on April 11, 1868, where they were transferred to a new coffin. The body was reported to be in a well-preserved, natural condition. En route from Richmond, it had been transported by water to Washington, D.C., and by train to Cincinnati. It was met there by dignitaries on April 16th. The closed casket was displayed overnight in the home of Captain Charles Albert Withers, Morgan's last adjutant. The train departed Cincinnati on the final leg to Lexington on April 17th, pausing several times in route for Confederate veterans and admirers to pay their respects and view the bier.

The final funeral service was conducted by Rector Jacob Shipman at Christ Church in Lexington. The brethren of Daviess & Nelson Lodge No. 22 conducted Masonic memorial services immediately afterward. The membership of the lodge were part of the procession which bore General Morgan's remains to the cemetery. As the procession entered the cemetery grounds, the coffin of Tom Morgan was carried into line, and followed to graveside. A brief committal service was read by Rector Shipman, followed with a final service by Daviess & Nelson Lodge. A huge throng of family, friends, and admirers inundated the church and assembled at the cemetery. The earthly remains of John Hunt Morgan were finally at rest, free of all earthly controversy and strife.

Basil W. Duke, Morgan's famous second-in-command, historian, and beloved brother-in-law, became, ironically, the chief legal counsel and lobbyist for the L & N Railroad; the target of so much destruction at the hands of Morgan's raiders. Mattie eventually married Judge James Williamson of Lebanon, Tennessee. She raised Johnnie, and gave birth to four additional children during her second marriage. She died in the fall of 1887, following a lengthy illness. Johnnie married the Reverend Joseph W. Caldwell, a Presbyterian minister from Selma, Alabama on May 1, 1888. She died shortly thereafter of typhoid fever, on July 1, 1888. She was 23 years old.

An equestrian statue of the general was erected on the courthouse lawn in Lexington and dedicated on October 18, 1911. The cost of $ 15,000 was borne jointly by the Kentucky Daughters of the Confederacy and the Kentucky Legislature, who assumed $7,000 of the expense.

The great John Hunt Morgan was one of the Confederacies most beloved sons and distinguished heroes. Over four turbulent years Morgan and his Confederate raiders immobilized a vast Union military force in Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. He frustrated and terrorized his foes and enthralled his admirers, thousands of them starry eyed young ladies of the South. His gallant and friendly demeanor endeared him to his troops; but his penchant for independent action exasperated his superiors. Like many of his distinguished family, Morgan was an avid Mason to the end of his life. He suffered more than anybody else the penalty for his own frailties. They finally demanded his life. Never able to play the game of war according to conventional rules, he made his own; and suffered the consequences. If John Hunt Morgan were here today, he would probably tell you that he would do it the same way all over again.

Reference and Source Material

BOWMAN, JOHN S.: The Civil War Almanac; publisher World Almanac Publications, New York, N.Y., 1983

CATTON, BRUCE: The Civil War, publisher. American Heritage Publishing Company, New York, N.Y., 1960

DENSLOW, WILLIAM R.: 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. III; publisher The Missouri Lodge of Research, 1957

DONALD, DAVID: Divided We Fought publisher: Macmillan Company, New York, N.Y., 1952

METZLER, WILLIAM E.: Morgan and His Dixie Cavaliers, published by author, Columbus, Ohio, 1976

NOEL, LOIS PURCELL: John Hunt Morgan; published by author, Paducah, Kentucky,1933

RAMAGE, JAMES A.: Rebel Raider, publisher University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, Kentucky, 1986

RICHARDSON, JAMES D.: Messages and Papers of the Presidents; pub: Bureau of National Literature, New York, N.Y., 1897

RODENBROUGH, THEO F.: The Calvary; publisher Fairfax Press, New York, N.Y., 1983

SINGLETARY, OTIS A.: The Mexican War, publisher University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1960


Archives of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, Masonic Home, Kentucky.

Lexington Public Library, Lexington, Kentucky.

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Brother George

Where have All Our Heroes Gone!

This file is copyright (c) The Philalethes Society and all rights including any redistribution rights are reserved by the copyright holder.  Permission to quote from, redistribute or to otherwise use these materials must be obtained from the copyright holder directly by contacting The Philalethes, Nelson King, FPS, Editor 2 Knockbolt Crescent, Agincourt Ontario Canada, M1S 2P6, Tel:  416-293-8071 Fax:  416-293-8634 or CIS:  71202,22 or

By Thomas W. Jackson FPS

For the purpose of this paper let us first qualify that heroes must meet the basic criteria of being great and that hero status for them exists in the minds of those whom they influence. There are no ungreat heroes. Secondly Let us establish that we are referring only to a positive hero status and, thirdly, that status is of a level that it impacted the world.

In the 34 years of my Masonic membership, probably the most impressive characteristic of the Craft to me over the period of its existence is the number of great men who were Freemasons. Men from such diverse backgrounds, that to find any force to bring them together, let alone hold them together, was unique in itself Other organizations attracted members with similar backgrounds, interests or social status, but Freemasonry has transcended class distinction, occupational restriction and educational categorization.

Obviously, not all Members were great, but it is improbable that any organization has had a larger percentage of great men comprising it than has Freemasonry. Now - did Freemasonry attract great men or did Freemasonry make men great? Or perhaps both.)

For the greater portion of my life, I have been looking at the changes occurring in society almost as a detached observer. I analyzed it thinking it to be a temporary phenomenon, a reversible transition into a world which I did not want to accept. It has only been in recent years that reality has sunk in, and I have finally acknowledged that we are traveling on a one-way track which leads into a world in which I must live whether I want to accept it or not. It will not - it cannot go back to what it once was.

Yet I find myself longing for the days when our children's heroes were committed to setting a desirable example for them to follow and when it was important to do right just for the moral and ethical principle of it being right.

I continue to search for remnants of those days of respect for our country's flag and all of the principles it represents, when one stood and saluted when it was passing by, for that display of patriotism which was expressed, in "right or wrong my country", for that commitment to service and to helping others which permeated what I remember. Those are the same qualities which were emphasized to me in the teachings of Freemasonry. This is probably one of the reasons Freemasonry is so attractive to me and why it may be less attractive to current generations. One cannot miss what one has never known. If we fail to teach the young what was important in our lives, we cannot expect them to share in our values.

I don't mean to imply that these qualities are non-existent today, but they have surely diminished. Nor would I seek a blind commitment to the past ignoring what may not have been right with no inclination to correct it, but I do look back with a feeling that something has been lost.

Where have all our heroes gone?

We may debate the issue that we are not producing heroes today by pointing to those like Generals Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell and the service they performed, and I in no way wish to detract from the significance of their contributions. They are both great examples to our youth of what can be, but their rise to hero status was almost a spontaneous reaction to a short-lived phenomenon. I am seeking the hero of long-term commitment, those whose very life was of a heroic stature - men like Brother George Washington and so many other Masonic Brothers whose very lives and deeds in such a diversity of fields set examples for the world to follow.

Heroes are a necessary building block in an operational society. No great civilization became great without its heroes. But they must create a positive influence or they become worse than none at all. History is rife with the tyrant "heroes". A humaneness in the profile of the individual is a requirement if the hero is to be a positive influence to the world. It was the humaneness of Washington which helped set him apart from the average.

It is a tragedy of monumental proportions that our society of today seems to be not only not developing that stature of man but also appears to be committed to destroying the image of those that were. It seems of importance to search for flaws in the character of those who we learned were of significance in the development of our nation and of all civil society. It is incomprehensible that anything tangible can be gained by any society which seeks to destroy the image of its positive heroes. I am not aware of any historically in the past which found a need to seek out the negatives of the great as we have become so inclined to do.

Isn't it sad that we must search for the few who remain positive role models to the youth among the prevalent negatives in society today. Thank God for the Cal Ripkins, Julius Ervings and Arnold Palmers scattered throughout the overpaid, ego-bloated, self-centered athletes of this day, and for the Ernie Boignines, Bob Hopes and Roy Rogers whose own images helped to bolster the image of the entertainment industry. Regretfully, they are the exception to the norm. When I asked the employees of the Grand Lodge to name some positive examples from the present-day entertainment industry that I could use for illustration, I received none.

It is perhaps in this context that Freemasonry made its greatest contribution to the world. It did bring together great men, and it did influence the development of these men while making most men better than they were. Toleration is a premise of the Craft, and, therefore, those heroes it helped to develop had to be positive heroes. At the same time it is probably that characteristic of toleration that sets the intent of dictators and tyrants to destroy Freemasonry where they rule. For where there is tyranny and despotism, there is no toleration, and where there is no toleration there is no Freemasonry.

You will rarely find history texts discussing the impact of the Masonic Fraternity in seeking human freedom or in the evolution of civil society, but those men who were impacted by Masonic ideology cannot be ignored.

Simon Bolivar in South America, Lajos Kossuth in Hungary, Benito Juarez in Mexico, Guiseppi Garibaldi in Italy, Theodore Kokolotronis in Greece, to name a few, were all Freemasons who led in their country's struggle for freedom, liberty and equality, and, of course, George Washington who is still regarded as one of the greatest of leaders who has ever lived. Washington is the one name I find almost universally revered Masonically worldwide. My Brothers, these men changed the world. They were responsible for laying the foundations of freedom in much of the world where freedom exists today. The world is because they were, and many were because of Freemasonry. Its teachings were carried in the hearts of the men whom it inspired.

Even amongst the greatest, however, Brother Washington stands tall. His name will rank in history with the great military leaders of all time - leaders such as Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan, even though he lacked the dictatorial power of Alexander and the demonic nature of Khan.

His presence will be noted with all the great patriots of the world whose contributions to their country caused their name to be etched upon its very foundation. As a statesman, his influence on the creation of this nation cannot be overstated. And yet, it was his humanity, his commitment to his men and to his God which causes him to be a great man among great men - a quality impressed by Freemasonry upon all who enter its ranks.

The noted historian Edward Everett described Washington as the greatest of good men and the best of great men. Lafayette once exclaimed, "Never did I behold such a superb man," and Gladstone said of him, "Washington was the purest figure in history." There have been few great leaders in any field who could be so described.

Our Brother stands alone also in respect granted by other nations which is reflected by the comparing of their great heroes with him. Simon Bolivar is referred to as the George Washington of South America and Lajos Kossuth as Hungary's George Washington, to name just two.

Isn't it ironic that we as a nation are losing this contact with him when so many other countries are using him and his contributions as an ideal to emulate. But, then those who struggle to gain have a greater appreciation of the gain, and it has been a long time since the average American has had to truly struggle.

Prosperity has a way of dulling appreciation for those whose sacrifices and commitments gave us that prosperity. That is a tragic commentary, for when we fail to remember the great persons of the past, we fail to remember why they were great, and this paves the way for failure to produce greatness for the future. Maybe this is where our heroes have gone. It would be well for us to impress upon the young the meaning of the struggle and an appreciation of the hero.

In a world population so many times larger than it was three to five hundred years ago, where are the Michelangelos, the Beethovens, the Rembrandts, the da Vincis, the Mozarts of today? With so much greater population base, you would expect more greats in each field, not less. And where are the notable patriots whose lives were synonymous with service?

One of our society's glaring yet ongoing errors is in its constant giving while requiring so little in return. How can we expect to develop responsibility when we require none? We live in an environment today which seems to thrive on self-centeredness and the promotion of mediocrity. With a concentration on one's self,-there can be little time for an interest in others. Why should one try to reach a stature of greatness when mediocrity is so well rewarded? And without greatness, there will be no heroes.

My last 14 years in the field of education were spent in a highly respected private college for young women. When enrollment began to decline, I watched that high-quality institution lower the requirements for admission and demand lesser performance of the student body. These requirements ranged from academic standards to dress codes. The school is no longer in existence, and it died a little-respected academic institution. The requirements became less, and less is what was received. The result was predictable. Keep this in mind with the Craft.

A major contribution Freemasonry made to this world is the result of its admonishment of its Members to assume responsibility. Greatness can occur only through the assumption of responsibility, and could there exist a hero who has assumed no responsibility? To this day, Freemasonry's molding of men to accept responsible positions of leadership is an invaluable contribution to society. This is one reason why we must place more importance on the loss of potentially successful men than on a general concern in reduction of numbers. They are the future, not just of the Craft, but of the world.

It has been said that leaders are born, not made. This may be true as far as it goes, and it May also be true of heroes. The greats in any field must have the genetic potential to become great. I well know that no matter how much I may try, I could never be a da Vinci, a van Gogh, a Michelangelo or a Mozart, or for that matter an Arnold Palmer or a Cal Ripkin because the potential is not there. There is a requirement, however, for any potential to be achieved. The environment becomes a mitigating factor.

What if da Vinci, van Gogh or Michelangelo had never been exposed to art? What if Mozart or Beethoven had never been stimulated to music or Palmer or Ripkin to sports? Would we know them now? The environment to which they were exposed was required to develop the potential. The potential is born within but the result is made from without. That potential must still be present in the world's population today. So where are they now? If the genetic potential is here, the environmental stimulus must be lacking. This makes organizations like Freemasonry so much more important in a world that is slipping in its production of positive heroes.

It is inconceivable that the Masonic Fraternity would not have had a considerable influence upon those great patriots who led in their country's struggles, in their thoughts and in their ideals. It must have had measurable influence in the development of these heroes. It can hardly be happenstance that they all led in the struggle for the same end. Their character quite possibly was forged in the conclaves of Masonic ideology. The potential was always there, so perhaps Freemasonry was the catalytic agent that brought together the ideals of these great men.

But, this should never surprise us. Isn't this the purpose of Freemasonry to make good men better? Is it not logical, therefore, to assume that men like those cited would be attracted to the philosophy of our Craft and take a leadership role in their country's struggles for freedom and liberty; to become positive heroes in the society in which they lived?

Freemasonry, therefore, provided an environment wherein the genetic potential might be stimulated to reach fruition, not only in military heroes but in the heroes of so many fields, causing them to become more than they were. It, therefore, must have helped create the heroes of the past, and it must survive as a viable force today to help create the heroes of the future.

Freemasonry has never existed in a vacuum. It has, through its individual Members and their influence, become woven into the fabric of society wherever it existed. Its leaders became the world's leaders, and the world's heroes then its heroes.

Today we point with such great pride to the great names recorded in Masonic history. Freemasonry probably had a hand in their development, and their greatness helped make the Craft great.

I fear, however, that one of our major weaknesses today is our inclination to point out to others Members who have been known for their greatness and not nearly enough to the greatness of the, organization itself. We have become. blinded by the individuals who comprised it. We are the classic example of the clich6 that the forest cannot be seen for the trees. There is nothing wrong in being proud of our past, unless in so 4oing we ignore the present upon which depends our future.

Freemasonry could very well serve as a template to the world of what can be accomplished by bringing great or potentially great men together. Could anyone with a goal to do so design an organization to accomplish more than has Freemasonry Could anyone design from scratch a superior concept for world peace through the promotion of the Brotherhood of Man? Indeed, could anyone improve upon the philosophy of the Craft? And, Brother George could serve well as a template of what a positive hero should be. He remains as the epitome of heroic stature to the world needing heroes and a world seeking peace. lf we recognize the importance of Freemasonry, and few do, in the development of civil society, we must also recognize its influence in the development of heroes. The caliber of the future hero may well depend upon what we do with the Craft today.

Freemasonry has been too significant in the world not to be needed. As long as the Craft lives, the contributions of our past Brethren will never die. It is their epitaph etched upon the headstones of eternity - these heroes of the past.

Those who cannot be great try to lessen the meaning of greatness. Those who cannot build tear down. It must remain a commitment for those who care to cause others not to forget these heroes of the past or we shall surely lose the heroes of the future. This is a primary reason why Freemasonry must survive as a viable force in the world of the future.

Freemasonry, my Brothers, had a magnificent influence upon this world. We have influenced heroes. We must accept the mantle of responsibility to continue repaying our Brothers of the past by influencing the heroes of thefuture. We must continue to develop those of the caliber of Brother George.

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