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The Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial Rededication Roadtrip

The Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial Rededication Roadtrip
20 Year Anniversary Rededication at the Gettysburg Cemetery

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The Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial in gettysburg

Because this is a personal blog I will from time to time stray from strictly Masonic education and move into personal experience.  While not trying to get too far away education, my recent experience traveling to Gettysburg was both enlightening and educational.

Not everything was Masonic, as I will explain further, but it was all very cool.

Being a pretty big history buff, anything that contains any shred of American History is usually on the top of my list of things I want to learn more about.  When you add in Freemasonry to the above it takes my level of interest off the chart.

The 20th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony of the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial gave me an excuse to put everything I love into one day and hit the road with some friends and brothers.   I couldn’t have had better company.  Three likeminded history buff Freemasons in one car made for a great day.

McConnellsburg Mt. Zion Masonic Lodge

McConnellsburg Mt. Zion Masonic Lodge

Two of us are from Bedford County, so naturally we picked Historic Lincoln Highway as the most direct Route to Gettysburg.  Coming through Fulton County into McConnellsburg where we met up with our friend, we stopped at Mt. Zion Lodge No. 774 to carpool.  We also experienced our first Civil War site of the day.

While not Masonic, the “Confederate Dead” graves and historical marker sits in McConneslburg on Rt. 16, Buchanan Trail (39°55’26.31″N  77°59’1.73″W).  This is the resting place of two Confederate Soldiers who were killed in a Skirmish a month before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Confederate Dead

Historical Marker at the Confederate Dead location in McConnellsburg

As the story goes, the men of the 1st New York (Lincoln) Calvary led by Capt. Abram Johns arrived in McConnelsburg about a month before the battle of Gettysburg.  Also in McConnellsburg was an unarmed militia cavalry out of Huntingdon led by H. M. Morrow.  Jones who sent a picket detail east to watch for any Confederates, was conversing with Marrow when the detail galloped back into town giving the news of the approaching confederates.  To this, Jones made the decision to fight.  You can read about the entire skirmish here, but to make this long story short, quite a saber battle ensued, while perusing retreating confederates, two were killed just north of town, and Jones’ men were able to capture a few rebels who were marched them out of McConnellsburg  to Bloody Run (Modern Everett.)

Confederate Dead

The final resting place of 2 confederate soldiers in McConnellsburg.

The Confederate soldiers were William B. Moore and Thomas Shelton.  They were taken into town, prepared for burial and returned to the place near where they fell to be interred.  Later the same day a mass of confederate soldiers arrived back in McConnellsburg were a door to door search was conducted for weapons before they headed east back over the mountain. 8

Try as I might, I could not force a Masonic connection here, although I am very open to someone else trying.  I couldn’t find a record of these two CSA soldiers in any Masonic context, nor of that of Abram Jones.  As a side note, I did find he is buried in Los Angeles CA, which I found pretty weird.  I am looking into this more.

Leaving McConnellsburg, we drove a short distance to Chambersburg, PA.  For anyone who has not been through this town, do yourself a favor and put this on your list.  The Masonic lodge in Chambersburg is not only the oldest Masonic building in PA, (built in 1823 as a Masonic Hall and still used as such) it is also one of the oldest buildings in the city, as it was spared from the destruction of the Confederates in 1864.

About a year after the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. John McCausland led troops to the city where he demanded a ransom of$ 100,000.00 in gold from the merchants and citizens.  This was in supposed retaliation of federal destruction to private property in the Shenandoah Valley.5   When the merchants refused to pay he ordered the city to be raised. The destruction consumed nearly 550 houses and left roughly 2,000 residents homeless.

Chambersburg Masonic Lodge

Chambersburg Masonic Lodge: Spared from destruction during the confederate razing of the city in 1864.

As the legend goes, a “high ranking” Confederate officer spotted the building and recognized its significance.  Supposedly he confirmed with the neighbors that it was, in fact, the Masonic Hall.  Because of this, the building (or entire block depending on which story you heard) had guards placed around it sparing it from destruction. 6

While this is a very romantic story, unfortunately none of this can be 100% authenticated.  What we do know is that most of the city was burned and that this particular block went pretty much untouched.  Local legion and folklore can be wonderful things, but unfortunately without concrete proof we may never know the entire story or the exact circumstances in which the Masonic Hall was spared.   With that said, I believe it probably happened exactly like the legend states.

Oddly enough, the 1864 burning of Chambersburg wasn’t the first, or the second time, that this city was occupied by the Confederates.  One year earlier, leading up to the battle of Gettysburg, a Virginia Cavalry brigade, under Brig. General Albert G. Jenkins occupied the town and burned several warehouses and the Cumberland Valley Railroad structures and bridge.  Around the same time, much of the Army of Northern Virginia past through this area heading to Carlisle and Gettysburg.  General Lee even headquartered at a Farm near town.

Prior to this, in October of 1862, Confederate Maj. General J.E.B. Stuart raided the city with 1800 cavalrymen.  They caused about $250,000 dollars in damage and made off with guns and horses.  They failed at their main goal of burning the railroad bridge across the Conococheague Creek at Scotland, five miles north of town.  This they accomplished the following year.

Thadeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop

Thadeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop along Rt. 30 near Caledonia State Park.

From here we continued on the Lincoln Highway toward Gettysburg.  By chance we came upon another site that has a semi-Masonic, but not really at all, significance.  This was the blacksmith shop of Thadeus Stevens.  His shop sit directly along the Lincoln Highway near Caledonia State Park (39°54’23.77″N  77°28’44.21″W)

As many of you know, Thadeus Stevens was a Pennsylvania Representative who led many charges for civil rights and abolition of slavery in general. Stevens changed his party  affiliation quite a bit being a Federalist, Anti-Mason, Whig, and Republican at different times, however, we, as Freemasons,  tend to remember him as being perhaps one of the most ardent anti-Masons during the Ant-Masonic movement.

Folklore and myth claims that Stevens was rejected from a lodge in Gettysburg, which could have added to his Anti-Masonic attitude.   To help clear this up, in fact, there is no record of Thaddeus Stevens petitioning a lodge in Gettysburg.   There has only ever been one Masonic Lodge in Gettysburg.  This lodge was warranted as Good Samaritan Lodge No. 200 in 1825, just before the Morgan Affair and anti-Masonic movement that swept the United States.  Lodge No. 200 was broke up in 1832 as a result of the movement.  It would be dark until 1859 when it was re-organized as Lodge No. 336.

In 1887, a man by the name of Joshua L. Lyte wrote a letter published in the Masonic Voice Review laying out proof based on primary sources and lodge minutes that there was never a record of Stevens petitioning Gettysburg Lodge.  Rather than re-write his entire letter here and make this longer than it needs to be you can either take my word for it, or read the actual letter here.7

Outside of Good samaritan Lodge No. 336 in Gettysburg

Outside of Good Samaritan Lodge No. 336 in Gettysburg. The location of this well known tourist statue is peculiar to me.

Moving on from this short stop we approached Gettysburg, the highlight of the day.  When we first got into Gettysburg we were ahead of schedule so we just drove to the downtown square.  Conveniently, Good Samaritan Lodge No. 336  is located directly in the heart of town.  The door was open, so we went in.  On site preparing for the ceremony were several members of Good Sam lodge including Worshipful Master Matthew P. Terpstra who gave us a brief peek around the lodge room.  Great guys! 9 Driving to the cemetery was the impressive site of hundreds of Masons in aprons walking on the street.  For a block there was a parade of aprons, collars, jewels, and suits all moving toward the center piece of the Friend to Friend Monument.

At the Friend to Friend Monument

The three of us at the Friend to Friend Monument.

The monument, which is impressive in itself, was made even grander by being surrounded by every body of Freemasonry you can think of.

The Friend to Friend monument was created 20 year ago to commemorate the battlefield meeting of Confederate General, Bro. Lewis Armistead and Union Army Captain Bro. Henry H. Bingham.  Where, as the story goes, Bingham assisted the mortally wounded Armistead near the high water mark.  Both Bingham and Armistead were members of the craft.  It is also a fact that Bingham did receive some of Armistead’s personal effects.  While there is not really any proof that the motives were Masonic in nature, it did represent a meeting in which two brothers from opposite sides of the field met and demonstrated compassion.

Image

Grand Master Jay Smith and Past Grand Master Edward Henry Fowler, Jr.

The rededication was complete with a moving presentation by the Grand Lodge officers and Grand Master Jay Smith.  There was present many Past Grand Masters including Edward Henry Fowler, Jr. who was Grand Master 20 years ago at the original dedication.

This is not the only Masonicly significant monument in Gettysburg. On the contrary, one of the larger and arguably more nationally important monuments at Gettysburg, the Soldiers National Monument, has a historic Masonic connection.

On July 04, 1865 a cornerstone ceremony for the Soldiers National Monument in Gettysburg took place.  In office at the time of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was Grand Master Lucius H. Scott. According to the 1865 minutes of the Grand Lodge he states:

“Among the official duties I have been called to discharge during the past Masonic year, none have appeared to me more important so far as the dignity and honor of the Grand Lodge is concerned, than that of laying the corner stone of the Soldiers National Monument at Gettysburg.”1

Grand Master Scott further explained that one month prior to this event he received a letter from David Wills, president of the Soldiers National Cemetery, informing him that invitations to this event were sent to Masonic lodges in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and DC.  Wills explained that the Grand Master of DC wrote back asking if the fraternity was to perform the cornerstone ceremony, and if so, which Grand Jurisdiction would awarded the honor.  To this, Wills explains that he conferred with a local Pennsylvania lodge who suggested their desire to have their own Grand Lodge perform the ceremony.  With this, the invitation was extended to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.2

To read through Grand Master Scott’s lengthy report on this historic event, it can be easily assumed that he knew of the significant and historic importance of this event.  He even offers and apology for the lengthy written segment in the minutes.

Image

Standing by the Soldiers National Monument.

While arrangements were made for President and Brother Andrew Johnson to be present for the ceremony, he was unfortunately unable to attend due to illness.  He sent in his place the Marshal of the District of Columbia, Judge Gooding who delivered a personal letter from him during the ceremony.3 President Johnson was a southerner from Tennessee who belonged to Greenville Lodge No. 119.4

This was perhaps one of the most educational days I have had in a long time.  I am glad to have witnessed the rededication ceremony and look forward to my future trips to Gettysburg.

  1. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdictions Thereunto Belonging. Volume XI, 1865-1874, Page 32.  (Available Online Here)
  2. Minutes of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdictions Thereunto Belonging. Volume XI, 1865-1874, Page 32-33.  (Available Online Here)
  3. The Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg, John Russell Bartlett, page 63-64 (Available Online Here)
  4. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey and Harry LeRoy, Volume 2, 1909, Page 645 (Available Online Here)
  5. Burning of Chambersburg Historical Marker, Accessed 5/28/2013, http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-202
  6. George Washington Lodge #143, History, Accessed 5/28/2013, http://gw143.org/about-our-lodge/history/
  7. The Masonic Voice Review, Volumes 66-68, 1887,Page 147, Available on Google Books, Accessed 5/28/2013
  8. Confederate Dead [McConnellsburg] Historical Marker, Explore History, Accessed 5/29/2013 (Available online here)
  9. Gettysburg, Good Samaritan Lodge No. 336: http://www.gettysburgmasonicbodies.embarqspace.com/

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Peter Guibert’s Trek

Marching in Bedford

Mr. Ray Zimmerman, Mr. Bill Mock, and Bro. Jim Smith pass through Downtown Bedford today. Ray and Jim will walk the entire 200 mile length from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg.

On June 05, 2013 I was fortunate enough to meet up with Bro. Jim Smith and Bro. Duane Myers, PM, who are on a 200 mile trek from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.  Bro. Jim is recreating a trek that started 100 years ago on May 26, 1913.

100 years ago Peter Guibert, a former drummer boy for the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry during the battle of Gettysburg, started out marching from Allegheny City Hall near Pittsburgh on his way to Gettysburg to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the great battle.

The modern 200 mile journey on foot is being re-created by retired mechanical engineer, Bro. Jim Smith, 70, of Greensburg, who is beating the same drum all the way, stopping at various locations along the route.  Today he passed through downtown Bedford, PA.  Upon hearing this I grabbed my camera and ran across town to catch up with Jim and his crew.

Saluting the colors

Stopping at every single American Flag to salute the colors.

Jim is accompanied by Mr. Ray Zimmerman who is walking with him on the journey.  When I caught up to them they were also joined by local historical society member Bill Mock. This was truly an amazing site to see as they stopped at every single American flag hanging on every single porch to salute the colors before starting the roll again on the drum.   In a truck traveling behind them was Bro. Duane Myers, PM and Mr. Dick Mizikar.

Bros. Smith and Myers are members of the Ambrust Veterans Association.  According to their business card they do Military Funerals, Educational Seminars, and School Programs.

Passing through Downtown Bedford

Bros. Duane Myers, PM (left) Adam T. Osman, PM (center) and Jim Smith (Right) in Downtown Bedford.

Jim and Ray are dressed in quasi-period uniforms as they marched through downtown.  Bro. Jim did tell me that they will change to highway clothing, which are florescent yellow/green t-shirts,  as they get to busier sections of road. Jim is using Guiberts actual drum from 1913. Smith said he came by the drum in the early 1980s from a woman named Betty Mower, who had it her attic and almost threw it away given its decrepit condition at the time. Smith said it was so dirty that his wife forbade him to bring it into their house.

There are limited records of the actual trek that took place in 1913, but papers in Gettysburg and Chambersburg reported the arrival of Guibert in their towns.   It is not proven that the original journey took the marchers through Bedford, but it could be likely as the new Lincoln Highway was a main travel route.

Information found online says Peter Guibert who was born in January of 1844. Guibert signed up with the Union Army in Pittsburgh and attached to the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry. He later served with the 77th Pennsylvania until 1865. Guibert was 89 when he died Dec. 7, 1933.

A simple Google search will give you many newspaper reports and articles on this Journey.  If you are lucky enough to live along the Lincoln Highway you too may see Jim Smith and his crew over the next few weeks.

More info on Jims Trek can be found at the following links:

http://peterguiberttrek.com/

http://peterguiberttrek.webs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Guibert-TREK-100th-Anniversary-Reprise-2013/439536006125611

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