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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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  1. 6 June 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Great article… as a fellow history buff and a Maosn, I found it wonderfully informative. Thanks a bunch.

  2. Samuel Kline
    2 July 2013 at 7:07 pm

    This was a well written and very interesting article. I live in York which is just east of Gettysburg. I try to go there at least once a year to “drink” in the atmosphere.

    In your story you mentioned the placement of the A. Lincoln statue. It is located outside of the David Wills home where the president spent the night and is supposed to have written the final draft of the Gettysburg Address. David Wills as you mentioned went on to be the President of the Soldiers National Cemetery.

    Fraternally yours,
    Samuel Kline
    Zeredetha #451

    • RFMuth
      12 July 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Piggybacking on Bro. Kline’s comment, the David Wills house is right next door to (on the East side) the Gettysburg Lodge building. It is the bright red brick building on the left in your photo. Thus, the placement of the statue is not as unusual as it might seem.

      I think Lincoln might have been pleased with the placement. According to his friend, Benjamin French, who was also the Grand Master of the District of Columbia (1847-53 & 1868), “He once told me how highly he respected our Order and that he at one time had fully made up his mind to apply for admission into it…” Indeed, he applied for membership in Tyrian Lodge of Springfield, Ill., shortly after his nomination for the presidency in 1860, but later withdrew the application out of a concern that the timing of it might be construed as a political ploy to gain votes. He told the lodge that he would apply again after his presidency. Of course, he was not able to do so.

      By the way, I, too, was privileged to be present at the re-dedication, among the Knight Templar Guard.

      Richard F. Muth, PM
      St James Lodge No. 457 & Parian Lodge No. 662
      Chairman of Masonic Education, 37th Masonic District

      • 12 July 2013 at 8:46 pm

        Thank you for your comments fellas. I guess I should have clarified, I realize the David Wills house is right next door, I was more surprised the statue wasn’t in front of, or at least facing more of the David Wills house. With that said, the ceremony was a cool thing to witness.

  3. 27 September 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Great article! I saw this monument when I was probably 14 or 15, and it profoundly moved me. The tour guide explained that both men were Freemasons, and even though they were fighting for different sides, their bonds of brother hood were still strong. This had a profound effect on my decision to seek out the fraternity later.

  1. 19 November 2013 at 10:42 pm

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