The 1919 Time Capsule of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital

By Alexander Vastola

Director, The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge

The time capsule box with the tool used to cut open the box’s copper lid

During the Special Communication of Freemasons at the Utica campus on October 5th, 2019, I was honored when M.’.W.’. William Sardone, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of New York, invited me to come to the Communication to open a time capsule with him.  This time capsule was from the cornerstone of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, located on the campus of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y., which was sealed in the cornerstone on September 20, 1919. M.’.W.’. Sardone had to use metal cutting pliers, visible on the top of the box in the above image, showing the time capsule after it was transported to The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge in New York City.

The box was made of copper plating, as shown in the above images, and was welded shut, which resulted in the items inside being in remarkably good condition even one hundred years after the time capsule was sealed shut.

The Context of the Time Capsule:

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, whose corner stone contained the 1919 time capsule

            The origins of this time capsule date back to September of 1919, as World War I has ended, and the Masonic Home Campus in Utica, N.Y., was beginning to grow under the leadership of Superintendent William J. Wiley, 27 years after the Masonic “Asylum” was first established in 1893 as a home for worthy indigent Masons, their widows, and orphans.  With Masonic veterans returning from the war in need of medical care, it was clear that a new hospital building on the campus was needed.  At the end of World War I, there was a fund consisting of $700,000.00, which had been raised to assist servicemen during the war.  The Masonic Home decided to use this money to help construct The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital on the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y.  In May of 1919, MW William S. Farmer, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York had stated the following:

“For years there has been a crying need for a hospital.  At present the trustees are compelled to reject many an application for admission to the home, for the reason that the subject of the application is suffering from disease, either chronic or acute, and therefore not admissible.  The result of this is that the very patient most in need of our benefaction is turned down and in many instances compelled to spend the period of his incapacity either in an alms house or become the subject of some private charity.”

He also stated that the hospital would serve as both a memorial to the Masons from New York who died during the Great War, and as a place where Masonic Veterans from the War could come to get “medical care free of all expense.”     

The Laying of the Corner Stone: September 20, 1919:

This image shows the crowd that gathered for this event, along with the crane used to move the corner stone into place, on September 20, 1919. Image courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge branch site at the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y.

After the Masonic Home decided to erect a new hospital building on the Utica campus, the cornerstone that enclosed the time capsule was laid on September 20th, 1919.  It was reported in the September 20, 1919 issue of the Utica Saturday Globe that thousands of Masons marched in a parade from Genesee Street in Utica to the campus of the Masonic Home, where the corner stone ceremony took place. 

Here is an image of the plaque that was placed on the corner stone to commemorate the corner stone laying on September 20, 1919
The corner stone laying ceremony involved many festivities, including a performance by the Utica Masonic Home Children’s Band, shown in this image. Image courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge branch site at the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y.

What was Inside the Time Capsule?

So what treasures did our library and museum staff and myself find within this time capsule?

The Flags

The first item removed from the time capsule was a large American Flag.  This flag was at least 6.5 feet tall, and was hand-made: I noticed that every stripe and star in the flag was stitched together by hand.  The flag had 46 stars, dating it to the period when Oklahoma was admitted as a State to the Union on November 16, 1907, and was the official U.S. flag for four years under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft until 1912, when New Mexico and Arizona became U.S States.  My theory for why this flag was included was that it may have flown from one of the flag poles at the Utica campus, and rather than retiring the flag, they folded it and placed it in the time capsule.  In addition to the large flag, there were six smaller flags rolled up in an issue of The Masonic Standard from 1919: the flags were: American, British, Union Jack, French, Italian, and Belgian, one for each of the Allied Nations during World War I.  The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, was signed in 1919, so these flags may have been included to commemorate this.

The Typed Inventory of Items:

Under these flags was a typed Inventory of the items included in the time capsule, typed on good-quality paper stationary from the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

Pages 1 and 2 of the Typed Inventory
Page 3 of the Typed Inventory

The Photographs:

There were several photographs in the time capsule, such as one that was mentioned in the Inventory, of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y., showing the Old Administration Building in the center, and the Tompkins Memorial Chapel on the left.  However, the photographs included in the time capsule of people were not listed in the Inventory, suggesting that they may have been placed in the time capsule on the day the corner stone was laid and the time capsule sealed – eight photographs in all.

The Old Administration Building in the center, and the Tompkins Memorial Chapel on the left, circa 1919 

One of these photographs was of Freemason Charles H. Johnson, or “Charlie.”  He was a Freemason member of Ancient City Lodge No. 542 in Albany, N.Y.  He also served as Grand Master from 1930-1932 and Grand Secretary from 1932-1947.  He lived in Albany and was a retired minister, working primarily on social welfare, superintending institutions for children and he wrote articles and gave lectures on children, the mentally ill, and the incarcerated.  In 1914, he was appointed as Deputy Warden of Sing Sing prison, and served as NYS Commissioner of Social Welfare from 1916-1932.  The Memorial Hospital was significant to him since he lost his only son, Orville, who was killed in action on July 18, 1918 at Chateau-Thierry in World War I as a Second Lieutenant of the 112th Machine Gun Battalion of the 26th Division.

Charles H. Johnson

The second photograph discovered was of Freemason John Stewart.  John Stewart was a member of Albion Lodge No. 26 (now called St. John’s Lodge No. 1).  He served as a Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and was Treasurer of the Board of Trustees during the building of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.  He also served as the Deputy Grand Master of the State of New York from 1894-1895, and was elected Grand Master in 1896 (hence the date on the photograph).  In 1906, he again served as Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and its Treasurer, and when he died in 1908, he was on the Committee charge of building the present Grand Lodge Building at 71 West 23rd Street.

John Stewart

The third photograph that was found was of Freemason George T. MontgomeryHe served as District Deputy Grand Master from 1903-1904. He also served as a trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum in 1907 and 1909-1918/19. In addition,when the corner stone was laid in 1919, he was serving as the Treasurer of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

George T. Montgomery

The fourth photograph observed was of Freemason William S. Farmer.  He was a member of Central City Lodge No. 305 in Syracuse, New York.  In 1889, he was the vice president and managing Director of Farmers and Traders Bank, and worked as a lawyer with the firm Kimball in South Dakota.  In 1915, he moved to Syracuse to practice law with the firm W. S. and H. H. Farmer and was appointed a Judge of the Municipal Court, a position he served in until his death.  Furthermore, he was also the Chairman of the New York Committee on the George Washington Memorial – where he did fundraising for this monument and worked hard to establish it in Alexandria, Virginia.

William S. Farmer

The fifth photograph examined from the box was of Freemason Robert H. Robinson.  He was a retired wholesale drapery merchant for the Mills & Gibbs Corporation of 2 Park Avenue, and lived at 170 West 73rd Street, N.Y.C.  He was also a noted orator, serving as Treasurer of the general Synod of the Reformed Church of America, speaking on the significance of the Bible and other subjects.  He was a 33rd degree Mason and member of Crescent Lodge No. 402, and from 1914-1916, he served as Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York; also serving as Deputy Grand Master from May 1918-May 1920, and finally as Grand Master from May 1920-May 1922.  In addition, he served on many Masonic Committees, including the Grand Lodge Committee on the Hall & Asylum in 1916, the Masonic Home in Utica, and the War Relief Committee in 1918.

Robert H. Robinson

The sixth photograph was of Freemason S. (Samuel) Nelson Sawyer.  A lifelong resident of Palmyra, New York, he was a 33rd degree Mason who was a member of Palmyra Lodge 248 in Palmyra, New York, and served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1908-1910.  In his professional life, he served as a NY Supreme Court Justice from October 1908-December 31, 1929.  In addition, he was supposedly the one who first suggested the idea of the Chapel at the Utica Masonic Home campus (the previous chapel was in a small room in the Old Administration Building), which led to Superintendent Wiley and the grand master discussing the chapel, and the new chapel was built (in April of 1910, he laid the cornerstone of this building).  He also had much Committee involvement, as he was a nearly twenty year member of the Committee of the Hall & Asylum, the War Relief Commission, and the Committee that erected the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica.  It also makes that that he would have been involved with this time capsule to preserve these artifacts, as he was a longtime member of the New-York Historical Society.

S. Nelson Sawyer

The seventh photograph included in the time capsule was of Freemason and Superintendent William J. Wiley.  He was the first superintendent of the Masonic Home who served for a lengthy period – due to his care of the children at the home – he was nicknamed “Dad” Wiley, and worked at the home from 7 in the morning to 9 at night, seven days a week.He served as superintendent for nearly 40 years: from 1906 to 1945, and was a 33rd degree Mason, and a member of Copestone Lodge No. 641 in N.Y.C.In addition,on May 7, 1936, he was elected Past Grand Master of the NY Grand Lodge, and previously in 1930, he was voted the “outstanding citizen of Utica.”Superintendent Wiley was also the one who discontinued the education of orphan on the Utica campus, instead working to have them educated in the Utica Public Schools.Furthermore, superintendent Wiley was also a builder for the campus, as during his tenure, the following building were constructed:The Charles Smith Infirmary, 1907;The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel, 1911;The Knights Templar Building, 1917; The Scottish Rite Building, 1922;the 1923 “Cottage”; The John W. Vrooman Memorial Dormitories, 1928, and Wiley Hall, 1928.

Superintendent William J. Wiley

Finally, the eighth photograph was of Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley with her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley.  The Masonic Standard of 1911 called Mr. Wiley and his wife and daughter “Santa Claus And His Assistants” due to their service to the children of the Masonic Home.  The mother, Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley, was Superintendent Wiley’s wife and Matron of the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, called “Mamma Wiley” by the children.  Mrs. Wiley obituaries stated that she was well-loved by the children, always ready to address their needs.  Her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley, was the organist for the Masonic Home in the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel.

Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley and her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley

Newspapers with Inventory:

In addition to photographs, there were also several 1919-era newspapers included in the time capsule, which recorded the current local and nationwide events of the time.  Here is an example of one of these newspapers, The Utica Saturday Globe, which mentioned the corner stone laying event of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital.  The biggest event mentioned in all the newspaper was the 1919 Steelworkers’ Strike.  There was also a written list of the newspapers that were placed in the time capsule.


The time capsule also had several Masonic publications as well.  One example was a small facsimile, or reproduction, contained in a green box, of the St. John’s Bible, upon which Freemason George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. 

The St. John’s Bible

There are also copies of the Constitution, Regulations, Definitions, and Rules of order of the New York Grand Lodge and the Code of Procedure of the New York Grand Lodge from the time period the time capsule was sealed. 

There was also a 1918 Grand Lodge pamphlet book from Miss Suzanne Silvercruys and others that was in an envelope from the Office of the Grand Secretary.  In this book, Miss Silvercruys thanks MW Thomas Penny for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York sending $5,000.00 to Belgian Relief to help Belgium recover from the devastation caused by World War I.

The 1918 Grand Lodge pamphlet book from Miss Suzanne Silvercruys

In addition, there were other Masonic publications as well.  For instance, there was a copy of the 1919 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, the Minutes and Proceedings of the Conference of Grand Masters of the United States in New York City from 1918 (note the flag of the Allied Nations to the left of the title page).

The 1919 New York Grand Lodge Proceedings
Title Page of the Minutes of the 1918 Grand Masters Meeting in New York City

There was also a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws of the War Relief Administration.  The War Relief Administration (or WRA) was set up by the New York Grand Lodge after America’s entry into World War I by 1917 and the Grand Lodge found that 50,000 New York State Masons were serving in various branches of the services, many overseas.  The WRA made arrangements with other American Grand Lodges to set up relief work in France, headed by MW Townsend Scudder – who raised funds and selected personnel.  However, the conditions at the front combined with a lack of transportation for men and goods made it hard for the WRA to progress far with its plans before the Armistice.  It was the money left over from the WRA that helped to fund the hospital. 

Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws of the War Relief Administration (W.R.A.)

Furthermore, there was a copy of Brotherhood, and inserted within the pages of this journal was a photograph of Freemason John Lloyd Thomas, Secretary of the Masonic Home, Utica, N.Y. and a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies in the Valley of N.Y.C.  John Lloyd Thomas was a 33rd degree Mason who lived in Utica, N.Y., and was a member of Benevolent Lodge No. 28, and was a writer and lecturer.  He was also a onetime President of the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund.  His photograph was probably included in the copy of Brotherhood because he was the editor of this publication – dedicated to the Scottish Rite and other Masonic subjects of interest and published by the New York Bodies of the Scottish Rite and circulated to its membership from 1913 until it was discontinued in 1920.

Finally, there was even a book stamped by the Children’s Library at the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, that was found in the box – a copy of Literary Digest.  Given the Masonic Home’s extensive history of caring for children before they transitioned more toward senior care, I was surprised that this book was included.  It was not in the original inventory, but it has a sticker with “W. J. Wiley” printed on it, so I think Superintendent Wiley placed it in the box.

A copy of The Literary Digest from the Children’s Library of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.

Medals and Plaque:

The Envelope, with the Masonic Medals and Plaque

Furthermore, the time capsule contained an envelope with medals and a plaque inside that commemorated various significant New York Masonic events.  These items were donated by R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan, a Railroad Clerk by trade from Suffern, New York.  He was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and was the Grand Sword Bearer in 1895.  He later served as Acting Grand Secretary from June 1931-May 1932, and Grand Secretary Emeritus from 1932-1933.  Following the death of MW Jesse B. Antony in 1905, he actually served as Superintendent of the Masonic Home in Utica until the appointment of William J. Wiley as Superintendent.  The hospital might have meant something to him, as he was a member of Masonic Veterans. 

One of the medals from the time capsule was this silver medal commemorates the dedication of the Masonic Temple in New York City on June, 2, 1875, that existed before the present New York Grand Lodge building.  You can see the building on one side of the medal, and the other side of the medal shows the seal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.  It took the Masons some time to raise the funds for the construction of this Grand Lodge Building, as due to inflation from the Civil War and the passage of time, the cost of the building increased to $1.5 million from an initial estimate of $35,000.00.  Once built, the Grand Lodge Building proved to be more of a financial liability, as the debts from its construction were not settled until the 1880’s.

The second medal found in the time capsule was a Bronze Medal to Commemorate the Freedom of the Craft from Debt, on April 24, 1889.  This was an important date in New York Masonry, for it marked when Masonry had paid off all its debts from the construction of the 1875 Grand Lodge Building in N.Y.C.  Grand Master Frank R. Lawrence was the Mason who was able to settle the debt: when he took office in 1885, the debt was $700,000.00, by the end of his term, there was a surplus of $200,000.00 in funds, which were soon earmarked for the construction of the Masonic Home in Utica.  Therefore, not only was did this event mark when Freemasonry in New York became financially sustainable, but it also led to the construction of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, where the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital was built.

The third medal found in the capsule was a Gilt Medal to Commemorate the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Masonic Asylum, Utica, New York, on May 21, 1891.  The front of the medal shows the Old Administration Building.  The gold bar on the medal’s ribbon, with the years 1842 and 1891 signifies the first time the idea of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was first suggested by Brother Greenfield Pote in 1842, and when the corner stone of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was laid in 1891.  The Administrative Building was dedicated in October of 1892 and occupied by 1893.  It could accommodate 150 people by administrative offices – in 1965, it was demolished to make way for a more functional one-story replacement building.

Another medal found in the box was a Gilt Medal Struck by Ocean Lodge # 156.  This Lodge was chartered on March 5, 1850 in New York (in Manhattan).  This Lodge was involved in the dedication of the Worth Monument on Madison Square November 25, 1857; the corner stone laying of the Egyptian Obelisk in Central Park, and the dedications of both the present Masonic Hall Building and the Masonic Home in Utica.  In addition, this Lodge was actively involved in fundraising for the Hall & Asylum Fund, and in June 1888 it had paid its full quota requested to help pay off the “great debt” of the Craft.

Medal from Ocean Lodge No. 156

Also discovered with the medals was a Bronze Masonic Piece Struck at Pan American Exposition in 1901.  My research did not reveal if the Masons has an exhibit at the Exposition, but this souvenir token may have been placed in the box to commemorate Freemason William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, who was assassinated at this Exposition.

Souvenir Token from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition

Finally, there was a Bronze Plaque of Morton Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar (of New York City) for their Semi-Centennial in 1873, or fiftieth anniversary.  It makes sense that R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan (mentioned earlier) would donate this plaque, as he was a member of Columbian Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar.

Plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Morton Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar, in 1873

Stamps, Coins, Documents, and Other Items

In addition, there were also stamps, coins, and other items found in the time capsule.

American Stamps:

For example, a full set of 1919-era stamps were included, which give an idea of the postage used at the time: including stamps with portraits of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin (both Freemasons) as well as a Special Delivery stamp and the Curtiss Jenny Airplane stamp.  The Inventory does not state who gave the stamps, but I think Freemason Charles H. Johnson gave them (whose photograph was mentioned earlier), since his biography file in the Library’s Vertical Files stated that he was “a stamp collector of more than local note.”

The complete set of circa-1919 U.S. stamps from the time capsule


The Inventory states that Brother George Chase gave the coins placed in the time capsule.  My research revealed that he was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and that he was a jeweler by profession.

Some of these coins dated from the early twentieth century, which gives us an idea of what the typical currency was that was used in 1919.  One of these coins was a copper 1919 wheat or “wreath” penny.  It was designed by Victor D. Brenner and in circulation from 1909-1958, and created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and was the first cent to include the motto “In God We Trust.”

A second coin found in the box was a 1919 U.S. Nickel, also called the “Buffalo” or “Indian Head” Nickel.  It was designed by James Earle Fraser and in circulation from 1913-1938.  Fraser supposedly modeled the bison on the coin on the bison Black Diamond in the New York Central Park Zoo. 

Another coin discovered in the capsule was a 1917 U.S. Silver Quarter or “Standing Liberty” Quarter.  It was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil, and in circulation from 1916-1930. 

Finally a 1915 U.S. Silver Dime or the “Barber”/”Liberty Head” Dime was found in the capsule.  Its Obverse was designed by Charles E. Barber (chief engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time), but its reverse was created by James B. Longacre in 1860 for the Liberty Seated Dime, and it was in circulation from 1892-1916.

The time capsule also contained several nineteenth century coins that were older than the 1910’s.  The first of these coins that was found in the capsule was the 1893 U.S. Silver Half Dollar from the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893.  In was issued for just 2 years from 1892-1893 during the Exposition.  Unlike the other coins in the time capsule, this coin was a commemorative coin, with a portrait of Christopher Columbus on one side and his ship with two globes on the other.

In addition, there was an 1864 U.S. Two-Cent Coin.  An Act of April 22, 1864, included a provision for a bronze two-cent coin, designed by James B. Longacre, and in circulation from 1864-1873.  This was the first time the motto “In God We Trust” was placed on a circulating coin.  The two-cent coin was predicted to become widely used, by the introduction of the three-cent nickel in 1865 and the five cent nickel in 1866 decreased the demand for this coin, and the Coinage Act of 1873 abolished this form of denomination in U.S. currency. 

There was also the 1819 U.S. Copper One-Cent Coin, also called the “Matron Head Large Cent.”  It was designed by Robert Scot and in circulation from 1816-1836.  Beginning in 1850, the U.S. Mint wanted to make smaller cents to replace the large cent to increase profits and create a coin that was convenient for users to handle.  Production of large cents was officially discontinued by an Act of February 21, 1857.

Finally, the oldest coin found in the time capsule was the 1804 U.S. Copper Half-Cent Coin or “Draped Bust Half Cent.”  It was designed by Robert Scot and was in circulation from 1800-1808.  The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, provided the half cent as the smallest denomination in American coinage, and these cents were expected to be popularly used for commerce, but they very never very popular with the public, and the Coinage Act of 1857 discontinued their production.


There were also pamphlet in the time capsule that indicated Masonic events.  A pamphlet found in the capsule describes the order of the many exercises for the September 20, 1919 laying of the corner stone of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital: some included: A Prayer, said by R.’.W.’. and Rev. C. Wallace Petty, D.D., Grand Chaplain; A Presentation of the Box by R.’.W.’. Christopher C. Mollenhauer, Grand Treasurer; A Reading of the Contents of the Box by M.’.W.’. Robert J. Kenworthy, Grand Secretary, followed by Music; and The Depositing of the Box in the Corner Stone by the Grand Treasurer.  There was also a pamphlet that describes the Masonic Meeting on the ship S. S. “Noordam” on July 1, 1919.  This pamphlet lists the order of events for this Masonic Meeting: the Prayers, the Chairman’s Address, other Addresses, Songs, and the Roll Call; as well as a directory of all the masons who attended the meeting and their Lodges.

Program and Letter:

There was a program from the United Grand Lodge of England’s “Peace Jubilee Celebration” from June 23-29, 1919, in London, England at the end of World War I also found in the capsule.  The program lists meeting of the Masons in England during this period, and lists some of the site that they visited, such as the House of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.  A letter from September 9, 1919 found in the box states that Grand Secretary Robert H. Robinson included it in the box.

“Peace Jubilee Celebration,” June 23-29, 1919, Program with Letter

Facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption and a Masonic Apron:

Also found in the box was a facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption issued to Dirigo Lodge No. 30 on January 31, 1887 – to exempt Dirigo Lodge No. 30 from paying dues to the New York Grand Lodge since they had already “paid a sum equal to Six Dollars for each Member” to the Grand Lodge (the total was $924.00). 

The 1887 Certificate of Exemption issued to Dirigo Lodge No. 30

There was also a Masonic Apron worn at the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Asylum, in Utica, N.Y., on May 21, 1891.  According to the Inventory, the Certificate and Apron were donated by R.’.W.’. Aaron Morris, of 175 Fifth Avenue, New York City, who served as the Grand Steward from 1901-1902, and was a member of Dirigo Lodge No. 30 of the 1st Manhattan District.  This explains why he put the Dirigo Certificate in the time capsule.

The 1891 Masonic Apron from the 4th Masonic District

Yearbook and Lodge Event Notice:

Additional items discovered in the box was a 1919 yearbook and Lodge event notice.  The yearbook is for St. John’s Lodge No. 1, and lists the Masonic Officers of the Lodge, when the Lodge met in 1919, a directory of their members, and other information.  The event notice announces an Address given by Freemason Colonel Walter C. Montgomery, Chief Surgeon of the 27th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces, at St. John’s Lodge No.1, on April 10, 1919, as a “welcome home” event, where he told his Masonic Brothers stories of his war experiences.  Colonel Montgomery was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal during World War I, when, in action along the Hindenburg Line from 25-30 September, 1918, with limited medical personnel he was able to successfully evacuate 4,000 casualties in four days.

The 1919 Yearbook (Left) and the Lodge Event Notice

Copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone:

The box also had a copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone for the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital.  The entire address (it is thirteen pages long) mainly discusses the larger significance of the corner stone laying, relating it to the history of international and American Freemasonry, as well as the history of hospitals in Western civilization.  R.’.W.’. Woelfkin stated:

“So to-day, were are convened in the ceremony of laying a cornerstone.  It is a common function which takes place with the erection of every communal or public building, whether devoted to religious, charitable or official usage.  But such a ceremony, like Raphael’s painting and Israel’s Passover, has an inside as well as outside meaning.  The formal placing of a stone to join the walls, the depositing of a few archives and memorials of our generation, which other generations may or may not read, these are outside features which could be performed without our presence.  Why then are we assembled in such numbers and with such formality to witness this common act?  We are here for something more than a holiday and the passing exchange of friendly greetings.  We bring memory, imagination, conscience, reason and will to this occasion; and by a concentration of all these faculties we aim to commune with the invisible and spiritual realities toward which all our symbols point.”

A Copy of the Address from the Laying of the Cornerstone, with the Envelope that it came in

A Weather Report:

Finally, the last artifact from the time capsule was a weather report from the day of the corner stone laying.  This is what it said: “September 20th, 1919: Nine O’Clock A. M.: Wind southwest.  It rained from about One A. M. to Eight A. M. – very high wind.  At this writing the wind still continues high – the sky cloudy and looks anything but a promising day for the ceremonies of the laying of the stone. P. S.  Eleven O’Clock A. M.  Beautifully clear.  Every prospect of a sunshining afternoon.”

The Weather Report from September 20, 1919

So now we have reached the bottom of box, this treasure chest of history, frozen in time from the days of Freemasonry one hundred years ago.

Sources Consulted:

*All images (unless otherwise noted) were used Courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge.

One Hundred Years of Service to Humanity. Masonic Home Centennial, 1993.

Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins: A Complete History and Price Guide for the Collector and Investor. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2006.

Yeoman, R. S. Handbook of United States Coins: 2008. (65th Edition). Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2007.

Subject Files, Biography Files, and Masonic Home Files and the Deceased Grand Lodge Officers and Second Grand Lodge Register, 1832-1853 Card Catalogues *(All from the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge)

“Walter C. Montgomery.” The Hall of Valor Project. Site Accessed 12 November 2019.

“William McKinley: President and Freemason.” Scottish Right Masonic Museum & Library. Site Accessed 12 November, 2019.

“The 46 Star Flag.” This website is dedicated to the Flag of the United States of America. Site Accessed 15 November 2019. 

“In Memory of Those Who Died: Formal Exercises in Connection with Laying of Cornerstone of New Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica Takes Place To-Day.” Utica Saturday Globe, 20 September, 1919, Second Section, 5.

“Cornerstone Laying Here On Saturday: Big Masonic Event a Great Honor to City of Utica and Masonic Fraternity—Soldiers and Sailors’ Hospital at Masonic Home a Memorial to Men Who Gave Life and Service to Their Country.  Parade Will Be Held; Grand Officers Coming.” Utica Herald-Dispatch, Thursday Evening, 18 September, 1919, 2.

MW Daniel M Semel’s 60th Anniversary Special Exhibit

To celebrate 60 years of Masonic service of MW Daniel M. Semel, Past Judge Advocate, the Library and Museum organized a special display consisting of documents from Lodge Historical File of Shakespeare Lodge no.750, books from the library collection, and artifacts from the museum related to MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York.

Temporary exhibit from Library and Museum celebrating MW Daniel M Semel’s 60 years of Masonic service.

MW Daniel M. Semel is an Honorary Past Grand Master and he also serves as its Grand representative of MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, near the Grand Lodge of New York, so we put a book he had donated. We also put on display medals from MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, and reprinted Charter from African Lodge no. 459.

In 1988, MW Semel was appointed as the Chairman of Unity Committee, which was featured in the article and report we included. The Unity Committee was founded with the aim of bringing the Grand Lodge of New York and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York into unity.

MW Daniel M. Semel was initiated, passed and raised in Shakespeare Lodge no.750 in 1959. We found two trestleboards of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750 from the same year. One listed him as “Awaiting First Degree” and one from three months later, which mentioned him as a newly raised Master Mason.

Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s Trestle Board of March 1959, listing MW Daniel M. Semel as Awaiting First Degree
Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s From the East article by RW Max Cohen, 1959, mentioned MW Daniel M. Semel as one of the newly raised Master Mason

Ten years later, in 1969, he became Master of the Lodge as we show the picture from Shakespeare Lodge no.750 Centennial Anniversary book. He became Judge Advocate in 1979 and the program of the ceremony was also on display.

Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s Presentation Ceremony Program from 1979

We were honored to be part of the celebration and it is our pleasure to honor one of the most significant members in the history of the Grand Lodge of New York.

Ratirat Osiri

Museum Technician

Exploring the Travel Certificate Collection

Folded and attached to a leather case, a travel certificate is carried and used as Masonic identification when a Mason visits foreign Lodges. In the Museum collection, we have a sub-collection of travel certificates, and I am pleased to share some of the interesting pieces I have found during my work with this collection.

Illuminated “Masonic Register” Certificates

Once unfolded from its leather case, a giant and beautifully illuminated certificate is revealed. This “Masonic Register” belonged to Worshipful Rudolph Holde, Past Master of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750, and Washington Lodge no. 21, and both Charter Member and Past Master of Great Kills Lodge no. 912.1 The certificate elaborates on the details of his Masonic milestones, and is decorated with hand-painted illumination. His photographic portrait is also attached. It even includes his “Called from Labor” date, which was likely written in before the certificate was accepted into the collection.

RW Augustus W. Peters

Another certificate of similar fashion belonged to Worshipful Augustus W. Peters, another prominent member who served as Master of Acanthus Lodge no. 719, as High Priest of Constellation Chapter no. 209 and as Eminent Commander of Clinton Commandery no.14. In his non-Masonic life, he was a Chairman of Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange and served as the first Manhattan Borough President.2 The certificate also shows his long list of membership and affiliations in various Masonic bodies.

James M. Austin’s Knights Templar Certificate with Robert Macoy’s Signature, 1858

Name of RW James M. Austin
Robert Macoy’s signature as Grand Recorder.

Before Right Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers’ celebrated, 36-year service as Grand Secretary, Right Worshipful James M. Austin served as the Grand Lodge of New York’s Grand Secretary for 27 years. One of the certificates from his leather travel case is his Knights Templar certificate, which is signed by Robert Macoy as Grand Recorder. Right Worshipful Robert Macoy was the Grand Lodge’s Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Commandery Knights Templar of New York’s Grand Recorder, and the founder of Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., still in existence today.

Edward C. Ehlers’s WW1 Masonic Letter, 1918

During World War I, Right Worshipful Edward C. Ehlers, the son of Honorary Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary Most Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers, was serving as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps in the United States Expeditionary Force3 . Although he was stationed at Camp Gordon, Atlanta3, his Masonic identification letter came in four different languages: English, French, Italian, and German. The letter issued by Continental Lodge no. 287 confirms the holder’s Masonic identity and requests assistance from other Brothers if he is found in distress, regardless of their affiliation. 

An expelled Mason’s certificate and a warning letter, 1866

Found folded within a travel certificate, the above is warning letter issued by Crescent Lodge no. 402, NYC, which describes the appearance of an expelled Mason and outlines his “immoralities”. In the letter, William T. Miller was accused for adulteries and fraud. The letter was presumably spread throughout the country to notify the Lodges to be cautious of his presence and his “evil designs”. The letter also includes his photographic portrait, which is uncommon for such a warning letter. Surprisingly, along with the letter a certificate was found which belonged to William T. Miller himself. Apparently, at one point, it was taken away from him and the notice was put with it for future reference (a precaution which has worked as intended). 

The above is a sample of the vast and diverse certificate collection held by the Museum of the Grand Lodge of New York. Each reflects the history of an individual Mason as well as various aspects of the organization. Accordingly, this collection is essential to the preservation of Masonic heritage, as it provides the primary historical data source for research and study.

Ratirat Osiri

Museum Technician


1. Semel, Daniel, Shakespeare Lodge no.750, Did you know that?, March 14 1974. Print

2. Harrison, Mitchell Charles. New York State’s Prominent and Progressive Men: an Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography. Vol. 3, New York Tribune, 1902.

3. Continental Lodge no. 287, Honor Roll, May 1918. Print

Highlights of the Library’s Coin and Medal Collection

Among the 60,000 artifacts in our care, we have a fascinating coin and medal collection which reflects both rich Masonic history as well as the history of the world. As I have been cataloging and studying them, I am excited to share with everyone some of the collection’s highlights that I have come across .

The Masonic Medal issued by the United States Congress

To commemorate the centennial of the death of George Washington in 1899, the United States Congress issued four commemorative medals to fund The Washington Monument Association in 1902.1 The collection feature George Washington’s profile based on Jean-Antoine Houdon’s works on the obverse with four reverse variants; Surveyor variant, Firemen variant, Husbandry variant and Masonic variant, which was suggested by a committee appointed by lodges in Alexandria. 2 They were pressed in later in 1904 in Philadelphia and were distributed for $1 each in bronze (and $1.5 in silver) 2

The four medals reflected his life and time as a citizen in Virginia where he spent his career as a surveyor, a fireman and a farmer, and served as the Master of the Lodge.3 The reverse of the Masonic variant displays a Masonic apron with a square and compasses and the inscription of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia, the Lodge in which George Washington served as Master in 1788.

This medal is one of the only Masonic medals ever issued by the US Congress. The creation of this medal could also suggest that George Washington’s strong connection with the Freemasons was still widely acknowledged back in that time.4

The Ciphered Masonic Medal of the Netherlands

This medal was struck in 1825 at The Hague by the Grand Lodge of the Netherlands to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Master of Masons in the Netherlands, Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, to Princess Louise of Prussia. The medal was designed by Joseph-Pierre Braemt, a famous Belgian medalist & engraver. The obverse presents the female figure referred to as Latomia with ciphered lettering above translated as “Ornat Et Auget5 which possibly means “Elegantly Increase in Wealth and Fertility” as a blessing to the royal couple.

The reverse displays an radiated delta with the letter G , with ciphered inscription around which can be translated to “In Memoriam Augustissimarum Nuptiarum Fratum Libere Ac Fidelis Silenti Lege Operantium Florentissima In Belgio Societas.”5 It could be roughly translated in English as “The most flourishing Society in Belgium of Brethren working freely under the law of faithful silence to commemorate the majestic wedding.”5

On a side note, after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Belgium was annexed into the Kingdom of Netherlands, and so were the Belgian Lodges.6 It could possibly be that the Belgian Brethren, who were under The Grand Lodge of The Netherlands at that time, were the ones who issued this medal, which would explain why Belgium was mentioned on its inscription.

The non-Masonic French Revolution Token

The five Sols copper token was commissioned by Monneron brothers of Paris (Monneron Frères) as “necessity money” in 1792 during the economy recession due to the French Revolution. The obverse displays the adaptation of “Fête de la Fédération” (The Festival of Federation) of July 14th, designed by Augustin Dupré, and depicting the soldiers saluting the female figure which represents Liberty.7 The inscription says “Vivre Libre ou Mourir”, which means, “Live free or die.”

The Monneron brothers commissioned Matthew Boulton of Soho Mint in Birmingham, England, to make the token. The token was made of copper, using a steam engine coin press and it was considered one of the highest-quality tokens ever produced. However, the token barely lasted a year before it was forbidden by the French government later in 1793 and slowly ceased circulation.8 (On a side note, the term ‘coin’ only applies to government-issued money, while currency issued by a non-governmental entity is instead named a token.)9

The non-Masonic Civil War Medal of Confederate General Jackson

The Stonewall Jackson medal was the medal issued by the Confederates to commemorate the death of Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the famous Confederate General of the Stonewall Brigade. This medal is claimed to have different origins from various sources: some claim it was commissioned by a grandson of the Marquis de Lafayette of the Revolutionary War10; some claim it was Charles Lamar, a Georgian businessman and Confederate Colonel who commissioned it.11

There is also a claim that the medal is the only medal issued by the Confederate States12, although there is no official record of it anywhere. The most likely claim is that, shortly after his death, the medal was made by fundraising through subscription, along with the funding of his statue.13

The medal was designed by Armand Caque, a French medalist. The finished medals were shipped from France and arrived at the very end of the Civil War. The other shipment was purchased in Paris by Charles Lamar during a business trip in Europe, hence the assumption that he was to one who commissioned it.13

The shipment made it through the Union’s blockade to Georgia, but then Lamar rejoined the army and was killed in action before he could distribute them. The medals were kept away in the Lamar family’s warehouse for almost thirty years before they were recovered again, making headlines in newspapers.14 They were later sold for $1 each through The Lady’s Auxiliary to aid disabled Confederate veterans, as advertised in 1894 in the Civil War Veteran magazine.13

The obverse of the medal shows the bust of Stonewall Jackson, facing left. The reverse shows the list of Civil War battles in which he participated. Though it was one of the most significant items associated with the Confederate, it is criticized for a number of inaccuracies on the medal such as mistakes in the list of his battles13, the wrong year of his birth and the poor likeliness of his portrait that has more resemblance to Abraham Lincoln than to Stonewall Jackson.14


1. “The Statutes at Large of The United States of America.” The Statutes at Large of The United States of America, vol. 32, Government Printing Office, 1903, p. 715.

2. Brownell, J. H. “Monument to Washington, as a Citizen in His Home Town.” The American Tyler, edited by Arthur M. Smith, The Tyler Publishing Co., 1904.

3. “American Journal of Numismatics.” Recent Washington Medals, vol. 39, no. 2, Oct. 1904, p. 36.

4. Newell, Aimee E. “Masonic Medals: Honoring the Past, Creating the Future.” Trowel, 2014, pp. 12–12.

5. Marvin, William Theophilus Rogers. “The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated.” The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated, Privately Printed, 1880, pp. 27–28.

6. Brennan, J. Fletcher, translator.  A General History of Freemasonry : Based Upon the Ancient Documents Relating to, and the Monuments Erected by, This Fraternity, From Its Foundation, In the Year 715 B.C., To the Present Time, by Emmanuel Rebold, Cincinnati : American Masonic Publishing Association, 1872, pp. 119–120.

7. Margolis, Richard. “Matthew Boulton’s French Ventures of 1971 and 1972; Tokens for the Monneron Frères of Paris and Isle De France .” The British Numismatic Journal, vol. 58, 1988, pp. 105–105.

8. Webster, Mish. “Mennerons Issued!” 

9. Homren, Wayne, editor. “The E-Sylum.” The Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 15 Apr. 2007

10. “TAMS Journal.” TAMS Journal, vol. 27, no. 5, Oct. 1987, pp. 183–185.

11. Muhl, Gerard. “Stonewall Jackson Medal of 1864.” RNA News, 2013, p. 4.

12. “Exonumia Auction #66 by Presidential Coin and Antique Company Inc, Public Auction Sale November 13, 1999, Suburban Washington-Baltimore Coin Convention.” Presidential Coin and Antique Company, Robert J. Centola Collection, 2000, p. 133.

13. Ruehrmund, Jim. “The Stonewall Jackson Medal.” The Virginia Numismatist, vol. 31, no. 4, July 1995, pp. 8–11.

14. “Relic of A Brave Hero: Two Barrels of Stonewall Jackson Medals Found in Savannah.” The Morning News, 24 Jan. 1894, p. 8.

Recent Acquisitions

The Theatre of The Occult Revival: Alternative Spiritual Performance from 1875 to the Present
This volume offers a thorough exploration of the religious foundations, political and social significance and aesthetics created by some of the most influential voices of the Occult Revival including, Aleister Crowley, Rudolf Steiner, and Katherine Tingley. Lingan’s text explores how theatre contributed to the fragmentation of Western religions and how the Occult Revival influences the development of occult rituals and beliefs.

Black Freemasonry
Revered Masonic research, Cécile Révauger provides a history of black Freemasonry throughout the United States from the beginning of Prince Hall lodges in Boston and Philadelphia in the early 19th century through the civil rights movement. Moreover, she attempts to explain the social role Freemasonry played in helping black Americans transcend the injustices they faced throughout time.

The Master Mason: The Reason of Being

The Master Mason explore the symbolism and allegory of the third degree of Freemasonry . In this volume Stewart seeks to explore the underlying esoteric connections within the ritual involved in becoming a Freemason.

Espionage, Diplomacy & The Lodge : Charles Delafaye and the The Secret Department of the Post office

In Berman’s latest book he provides insight into the British secret service and one of the most important figures of 18th century Britain., Charles Delafaye. Lafaye was a notable Freemason was at the center of the code breaking and Deciphering Branch within the secret department of the Post Office helping to prevent potential coups and acts of treason.

The General Meeting of the Square Club of the 4th Masonic District of Manhattan

By Catherine M. Walter, Curator and Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator

On November 14, 2018, The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. held a General Meeting Festive Board in the Ionic Room at Masonic Hall in New York City.  At the meeting, the Square Club hosted RW Demetrios G. Melis, Secretary of the Library’s Board of Trustees, who presented a brief lecture on the history of the Fourth Manhattan District and its Square Club. The  Square Club can be considered one of the oldest District Associations in the Grand Lodge of New York, being a direct successor to the Square Club of the Seventh Masonic District of Manhattan, which existed as early as the 1890s.

The Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan was originally formed from 22 Lodges of the Sixth and Seventh Districts in the 1918 state-wide reorganization of the Districts of the Grand Lodge of New York. Those 22 Lodges included (to this day) Kane Lodge No. 454, the “Explorers’ Lodge,” and St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, the state’s first daylight “Lodge of the Arts.” This Lodge has special Dispensation to meet during the day, due to its membership which was largely formed of performers who could not meet at night.

Through the work of Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator, with the assistance of Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian, the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum was pleased to present a Temporary Exhibit highlighting some of the fascinating artifacts held in the collections which came from Lodges in the Fourth Manhattan District. The attendees stated that they greatly appreciated the Special Exhibit and extended their grateful thanks to the Library staff for their work illuminating the history of their Lodges and Districts.

Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan
Image Courtesy RW Melis.

The Lodges of the Fourth Manhattan District, their organizational histories and the displayed artifacts are highlighted below.

Heritage Lodge No. 371 was formed in 1996 with the merger of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 and Corinthian Architect Lodge No. 488. It the existent Lodge after the previous mergers of Greenwich Lodge No. 467 and Sagamore-Naphthali Lodge No. 371 in 1971, and Corinthian Lodge No. 488 and Architect Lodge No. 519 in 1967. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1905 Member Pendant from the 50th Anniversary of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 [J6inv-654]. Sagamore Lodge No. 371 was warranted on July 3, 1855).

Compact Lodge No. 402 was formed in 1979 with the merger of Crescent Lodge No. 402 and Monitor Mosaic Lodge No. 418, and is the existent Lodge after the merger of Mosaic Lodge No. 418 and Monitor Lodge NO. 528 in 1971. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1903 Ashtray commemorating Crescent Lodge No. 402’s One Thousandth Communication [I38]. Crescent Lodge No. 402 was warranted on July 3, 1856. 

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858. On display in the Exhibit was the below Past Master’s Jewel, which is engraved with the following: “Presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 F & AM to W.B Barnett Woolf as a token of their Appreciation of the Manner he presided Over them during 1864, 1865 & 1867. Re-presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 to Wor. Bro. Isaac J. Woolf, on his installation as Master Dec. 17th, 1917.” Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858.


The existent Manahatta Lodge No. 449 was formed after a 1975 merger of Hiram Lodge No. 449 and Manahatta Lodge No. 489. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1900 lapel pin from Hiram Lodge No. 449, a Lodge with a quite complicated history. Its initial warrant was dated March 10, 1783, having been formed by members of No. 213 Army Lodge under the English registry. It became No. 7 in the renumbering of June 3, 1789, and then became No. 10 in the renumbering of June 4, 1819. On December 1, 1830, it’s number changed to No. 9 in the Proceedings.

On December 3, 1834, its warrant was suspended, and soon thereafter, surrendered. There was an attempted revival in 1852 by the Phillips Grand Lodge, which failed, and the warrant was again surrendered. A Petition to revive the warrant was made on February 6, 1858, and the warrant was revived on February 9, 1859 by the Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge, in which it became No. 148. At the union of the Phillips Grand Lodge and the regular Grand Lodge of New York on August 4, 1858, it received the number 449. More research would need to be done to discover why the lapel pin marks 1792 as an important date for the Lodge.


Kane Lodge No. 454 was warranted on June 9, 1854. On display in the Exhibit was a 1900 Program for a Dinner to Kane Lodge No. 55, New Jersey, by Kane Lodge No. 454, NY. Included in the Program was a signed engraving by Jacques Reich of Elisha Kent Kane. Kane Lodge No. 454 maintains their own Museum at the Grand Lodge of New York which highlights their explorer members who traveled to and discovered the North Pole. 

Not on display in the Special Exhibit, but related to Kane Lodge No. 454, is this walrus tusk, signed by Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, Sr. (b. 1856 – d. 1920). Brother Peary, the discoverer of the North Pole in 1909, was a member of Kane Lodge No. 454, being Raised in 1896. The tusk above was donated to the Library in 2003 by Mrs. Lois Morgante,  the widow of RW Rinaldo Morgante (b. 1923 – d. 2003), a Past Master of Yonkers Lodge No. 882 and the former Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Panama near the Grand Lodge of New York. This tusk may be a match to one that was made into a gavel for Peary Lodge No. 997 and presented to the Lodge by RW A. J. Squires.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Columbian Lodge No. 484 was warranted on June 15, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below Medal commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge in 1910.

Pyramid Lodge No. 490 was warranted on June 3, 1856 by the revived St. John’s Grand Lodge, and was granted a new warrant from the regular Grand Lodge on June 8, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below medal from their 50th Anniversary in 1910.


Park Lodge No. 516 was warranted on June 5, 1862. The first communication of Park Lodge was held at Washington
Hall, 683 Eighth Avenue, on Wednesday evening, July 11, A.L.
5860, under a Dispensation granted by MW John W. Simons, Grand Master.

An early petitioner to Park Lodge was Peter Hart, who distinguished himself as one of the first heroes of the Civil War. Of this Brother, “Leslie’s History of New York” commented: “With Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was Peter Hart, a soldier who had served with him in the Mexican campaigns. Hart was a native New Yorker and had once been a sergeant on the New York Police force. Nine times during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Stars and Stripes were pierced by shots from Confederate
batteries. At last a ball struck the staff and down came Old Glory to the dust. Thereupon, Peter Hart climbed to the top and nailed the flag to it while shot and shell were pouring all around him in a hissing shower. It remained in its proud position for two days until the surrender on April 14, 1861. It is worthy to note among the historic memories of the times a New Yorker saved the Stars and Stripes from falling in the first historic battle of the Great Civil War.” 
A postcard in the collection which references the Lodge was not placed on display in the Exhibit, but is featured below.


In 1861, Brother and Sergeant Peter Hart, member of Park Lodge No. 516, saved the flag at Fort Sumter, returning with it in 1865 with Brother and General Robert Anderson, a member of Mercer Lodge No. 50, Trenton, NJ, and an honorary member of Pacific Lodge No. 233, NY.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Gramercy Lodge No. 537 was warranted on June 17, 1863. A large coaster which was not placed on display for the Exhibit is featured below.

This artifact features an event on November 20, 1926, held by Gramercy Lodge No. 537 at Hotel Astor, the year in which W..Dudley C. Coverley served as Master. This hotel was on Broadway between 44th and 45th Street in Manhattan, and was named after RW John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), one of the first members of Holland Lodge No. 8, and Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New York from 1798-1801. He also served in two instances as Junior Grand Warden pro tem in 1798 and in 1801.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

On February 20th of that year, 1863, Putnam Lodge, No. 338 sponsored
the application of W..George K. Chase and twenty-three other Masons to form a Lodge they named Gramercy (which to the American Indians means “Many Thanks”). Of these petitioners, twenty-one were from York
Lodge, No. 197; one from Oscar Coles Lodge, No. 241; one from Tecumseh Lodge, No. 487 and one from Hiram Lodge, No. 1, of New Haven Conn. They came from diverse walks of life: broker, tailor, lawyer, baker, plumber, brush maker, grocer, hardware and ointment merchants, to name a few…
At the outset, the Lodge developed a close fraternal association with Sagamore Lodge, which presented Gramercy with a trowel.

St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 was warranted on June 28, 1865. It was the first Lodge in New York State to be granted Dispensation to meet during the day, as most of the members were entertainers who worked at night on Broadway. On display in the Exhibit was the below Certificate for Brother Al Jolson. Also on display from the Biography Section of the Library’s Book Collection was the book, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life, by Herbert G. Goldman [Call Number in the Library: 921 J68g].

Brother Al Jolson (1888-1950) was an actor and singer of Russian heritage. He performed on stage in New York City, and traveled with circuses and vaudeville performers.
He was Raised on July 1, 1913 into St. Cecile Lodge No. 563, and thirty years later, received the above Active Honorary Membership Certificate.
Image by Ratirat Osiri

Publicity Lodge No. 1000 was warranted on May 3, 1922. Today, it is formed by the consolidation of Harlem Lodge No. 457 and Americus Lodge No. 535 which merged to become Liberty Lodge No. 457 in 1986, and by the merger of Liberty Lodge No. 457 and Publicity Lodge No. 1000 who merged in 1999 to become Publicity Lodge No. 1000. On display in the exhibit was the below certificate issued to Brother Hiram B. LeQuatte in 1962, commemorating his 50 year anniversary of becoming a Freemason. This certificate was donated in 2016 by David Wendt in Honor of Hiram B. LeQuatte.

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Britannia Lodge No. 1166 was warranted on May 6, 1964. On display in the exhibit was the below Certificate of attendance during the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary celebration. It was presented to MW Wendell K. Walker, Honorary Past Grand Master (awarded in 1979) and Past Grand Secretary from 1963-1990, serving for 27 years during the terms of 15 Grand Masters. He passed away in 1991, during MW Richard P. Thomas’ term. MW Walker was an avid supporter of the Livingston Masonic Library.

Jose Rizal Lodge No. 1122 was  warranted on May 16th, 1984. On display in the exhibit was the below plate, celebrating the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 2010 and issued during the term of W.. Arvin P. Repil. a Brother in good standing for the past 37 years. 

Also on display, to highlight the Mason after whom Jose Rizal Lodge was named, was the below commemorative folder of currency, issued in the Philippines with a Masonic Square and Compasses prominently displayed. The first-named Hero in the Struggle for independence was Brother Jose Rizal, a member of Logia Solidaridad No. 53.

It was a great pleasure for the Library’s Museum Division to share some of the magnificent artifacts in the Collection with the Brethren for whom the items have most meaning. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library if your Lodge or District would like to have a similar Special Exhibit.

An 1889 Cornerstone Trowel made by Tiffany & Co.

by Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

Today’s highlighted artifact is one of the biggest and the oldest trowels in our collection, used in laying the cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harlem on this day 129 years ago, October 16th, 1889.

It was made out of sterling silver with an ebony handle by the famous Tiffany & Co. The detailed inscription records that the trowel was a gift from Republic Lodge No. 690 to the Rector, George R. Van De Water, and that the Church is located between 127th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The ceremony and the trowel were also mentioned in the following day’s New-York Tribune newspaper:

The cornerstone of the new St. Andrew Protestant Episcopal Church. Fifth-ave. and One-hundred-and-twenty-seventh-st., was laid yesterday with impressive ceremonies. The trowel used by Bishop Potter for putting the stone in place was a solid silver one present to the Rev. Dr. Van de Water, rector of St. Andrew’s, by the Republican Lodge, F. and A.M….Under the cornerstone were placed the two other [corner]stones …1

It is evident that the newspaper reporter mistakenly identified the Lodge as Republican rather than Republic Lodge. Republic Lodge No. 690 was warranted in 1869 and was working up until 1980, at which time it consolidated with Bunting-Charity Lodge No. 727, which is still in existence today.

The same report also revealed that the cornerstone was actually the third cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Church, the first church having been built in 1829 and the second one in 1872 after the first church was burned. The church then relocated to the present location and held the above-described cornerstone-laying ceremony. According to the church’s history, it is the first Episcopal church in East Harlem. 2-5

The important name appearing on the trowel and in the newspaper is George R. Van De Water, the Rector of St. Andrew Church at that time. The Grand Lodge of New York published a sermon of his to be distributed among the Lodges in 1908.6 He was later appointed as the Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1910 to 19177 and delivered several sermons to the Masons during his term of service as Grand Chaplain.8

From the day the cornerstone was laid, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has been offering services to their patrons and to the Harlem community through generations. We are proud to have in our care this artifact which reflects both the history of New York City and New York Freemasons .


1.  New-York Tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 17 Oct. 1889. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. 

2. George Roe Van De Water, Project Canterbury 

3. Jacot, Mary A.The Story of the Twenty-Five Years’ Rectorship of George R. Van De Water, (1913).” Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, Project Canterbury, 2013

4 Memorial Minute Drafted by the Committee Appointed by Bishop Manning for the Memorial Service of the Rev. George Roe Van De Water Held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine March 18, 1925.” Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, Project Canterbury, 2012,

5. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Harlem

6. Van de Water, George, Sermon and Address published by order of the Grand Lodge of New York of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York For Distribution Among the Lodges, 1908

7. Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, 1910 -1917

8. Van de Water, George, A Collection of Sermons, 1908-1914: Masonic Teaching, Bible Truth (1908), The Truth about Freemasonry (1911), The Plumb Line (1912), A Man and a Mason (1913), The Latent Power of Masonry (1914), Masonry and War (1916), Grand Lodge, New York, 1908-1914

Photo Credits:

 Featured Cover Image and Artifact detail: Artifact photo: Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, courtesy of Wikipedia user Americasroof

George R. Van De Water, courtesy of Project Canterbury


Recent Acquisitions

If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the early history of Freemasonry and its influence of Freemasonry throughout the United States and Europe, visit the library’s reading room to browse our recent acquisitions shelf.

 The 1783 Francken Manuscript  

 Supreme Council,33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction

The 1783 Francken Manuscript is a foundational document of Freemasonry and Scottish Rite that is of notable interest of Masons and historians alike. This volume features essays by, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, and Jeffrey Croteau, 316 full-color images of the original manuscript accompanied by a printed transcription on the adjacent page. While the book does not cover modern ritual this volume enables the reader to develop an understanding of the type of ritual they may have encountered during the genesis of Freemasonry in the United States.  

Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry

Author, Christoper R. Murphy

This book features eight scholarly essays exploring various aspects of Freemasonry during the early eighteenth century including, early masonic lectures, the role of music and song in Lodge Meetings, speculation regarding religion, and an examination into early lodge culture.  Thus, this compilation of essays helps to understand the begins of the institution of Freemasonry as well as the societal impact of the craft.

Little Lodges on the Prairie 

Author, Tessa Lynn

This book explores the role in which Freemasonry played in the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.  Lynn worked with records from the Order of The Eastern Star Chapter Laura and her sister Almanzo were a member, in addition to records from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota and the Grand Lodge of Missouri.

Gender and Fraternal Orders in Europe, 1300-2000 

Editor, Máire Fedelma Cross 

A study of religious organizations, Freemasonry, fraternal organizations, and social groups provides insight into the role gender played in the evolution of separate social spheres throughout Europe.

The Spirit of Freemasonry 

Author, Kamel Oussayef

Over twelve independent chapters translated from the original French documents pictured parallel to the type set translation explore Masonic subjects that may be viewed as peculiar to the 21st-century reader.    In addition to the main text, the footnotes provide readers with a  guide to understand the vocabulary, symbols, calendar, rituals, and alphabet utilized throughout Freemasonry.

Contemplative Masonry  

Author, C.R. Dunning Jr.

Expanding on his Guide to The Exploration of Freemasonry Through Contemplative Practices, C.R. Dunning Jr. provides a practical and accessible resource for Masons interested in deepening their self-knowledge through the degrees of Craft Masonry.

American Freemasonry: Its Revolutionary History and Challenging Future

Author, Alain De Keghel 33°

Renowned Masonic researcher, Alain De Keghel examines the rise of Freemasonry in the United States during the Colonial Era by exploring the relationship between Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin and the influence French lodges had on American Freemasonry. Moreover, Keghel investigates the decrease in membership and the efforts being made by the Grand Lodge of California to revitalize membership.

Book of Wisdom 

 Author, Jean Doszedardski, Translated by Kamel Oussayef, 33°

Translated from the original French, this Oussayef’s translation provides insight into the history of Freemasonry in the West Indies during the Late-18th and early 19th Century with documents from Lodge le Choix des Hommes located in San Domingo.

A Sublime Brotherhood 

Authors, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction staff members, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson compiled six chapters with lavish illustrations and prose that presents the history of the events, traditions, meeting places, and members which have encouraged the development of the organization from its beginnings to the present day.

Finding the Early New York Masonic Meeting Places

by Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

Back in colonial days, in addition to serving food and wine, taverns also played a major role as the community spot where people came for meetings, social gatherings or making business deals. The early Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York suggest that colonial New York Masons were also important regular patrons of taverns. One of the earliest records of Masonic activity during colonial New York was a public announcement found in The New York Gazette in 1737, signed by Charles Wood, Secretary.

Brethren of the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons are desired to take notice that the Lodge for the future will be held at the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern the first and third Wednesday of every month.
By the order of Grand Master
Charles Wood, Secretary

The only information that I found about the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern was its location, mentioned in the Brotherhood newsletter, wherein it stated that it was “near what is now the northeast corner of Park Row and Pearl Street.” Currently, this corner is now the site of the U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York building. The area is not accessible by (unauthorized) vehicles.

According to the Proceedings, the following announcements in later years also mentioned a few other meeting places such as King’s Arms Tavern in 1753 and Province Arms in 1754.

In Old Taverns of New York, author Bayles W. Harrison explains that King’s Arms Tavern was previously known as Exchange Coffee House or New Coffee House before George Burn took over and dropped its old name in 1751, but the location was vaguely mentioned as “at the foot of Broad Street”. The King’s Arms name was found in the project report of Fraunces Tavern Block of Historic District, pinpointing the exact address of the building as 105 Broad Street, which is the northeast corner between Broad and Water Streets. It is now a deli store on the first floor, sharing the same historic block with the famous Fraunces Tavern.

According to Harrison, Province Arms was one of the biggest and finest taverns in the city, and was also known as the House of Edward Willet, a famous landlord of colonial New York. It was “at the west side of Broadway, between present Thames and Cedar Streets.” This tavern later became the historic Cape’s Tavern of the Evacuation Day. This tavern was named after the keeper, John Cape, who happened to be a Freemason. It later changed its name to City Arms Tavern. Both names appeared in the Annual Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York in later years as well, but these different names essentially shared the same location throughout years.

The location is now Trinity Centre Building, right between Trinity Church and Zucotti Park,

How different the city is today, 281 years after that announcement in 1737 by Brother Secretary Charles Wood! And yet, how constant the Fraternity.


– Authority of the Grand Lodge. (1876). Early history and transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1781-1815. (Vol. 1). New York: Masonic and Miscellaneous. No. 2 Bleecker Street, D. Sickles &, Managers.

– Thomas, J. L. (Ed.). (1912). Brotherhood (Vol. 1).

– Bayles, W. H. (1915). Old taverns of New York. Retrieved from

– City of New York, Landmarks Preservation Commission. (1978). Fraunces Tavern Block Historic District Designation Report. Retrieved from

– Wilson, J. G. (1893). The Memorial History of the City of New York: From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892 (Vol. 2). Retrieved from

Photographs: Ratirat Osiri

Fraunces Tavern Image Courtesy:

NYC Map: Library of Congress: A plan of the city of New-York & its environs to Greenwich, on the north or Hudsons River, and to Crown Point, on the east or Sound River, shewing the several streets, publick buildings, docks, fort & battery, with the true form & course of the commanding grounds, with and without the town.
Contributor Names:
Montrésor, John, 1736-1799.
Andrews, Peter, active 1765-1782.
Created / Published: [London, 1766]
Call Number/Physical Location: G3804.N4 1766 .M6
Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu Digital Id:
Library of Congress Control Number: gm71000645