Masonic Lodges Do Not Just Happen To Happen… It Takes A Particular Set Of Circumstances Whereby A Group Of Dedicated Masons Promote An Idea To Establish A New Lodge….. But To Establish A Military Lodge, Especially Overseas, Is Unique Indeed.
Born On Enemy Soil Overseas Lodge No. 40 Is Distinctive In Many Ways…. We Are The Only Military Lodge Chartered By The Grand Lodge Of Rhode Island, And The Only Masonic Lodge In Which The Line Officers Wear Their Uniform Instead Of Tuxedos.
Furthermore, As Per Our By-Laws, Our Entire Membership Is Composed Of Honorably Discharged Veterans And Those Currently On Active Duty, Or Drilling With A Reserve Unit Of The Armed Forces.
Overseas Lodge Is A Descendent Of The “War To End All Wars” Known As “World War 1, And Is An “Off Spring” Of The Third American Army.
It Was 88 Years Ago – Monday, April 7, 1917 – United States Entered World War One – After Three Years Of German Arrogance And Atrocities… Which Included:
• Sabotage In Our Factories
• U Boat Sinking Of Neautral Merchant Marine Vessels
• Torpedoing Of The Lusitania (Without Warnings)
• Drowning 1153 Men, Woman & Children……….
But The Final Straw Was………
• The Interception Of A Coded Telegram (March 1, 1917 ) To The German Ambassador In Washington
• The Telegram Urged Mexico To Join With Germany & Japan In Waging War On The United States
• Mexico Was Promised The States Of Texas, Arizona, And New Mexico
President Wilson Called A “Special Session Of Congress”…. And After Considerable Debate – Voted 82 to 6 – To Declare War On Germany.
President Wilson Signed The “Declaration Of War” The Next Day….. And Believe It Or Not – Patriotism “Burst Into Bloom” As Never Before……
• Men Rushed Into Recruiting Stations To Enlist…….
• Parades “Popped Up” Everywhere – And New Songs Sprang Up All
Over The Country.
One of the first & most popular tunes was written by a native Rhode
Islander…… A 33rd Degree Mason & Past Master Of St. Ceile, Lodge Of New York (A Professional Entertainers Lodge)
• The Song Was Titled “Over There” And Was On The Lips Of Practically Every Soldier As He Shipped Overseas.
• And, The Brother I Have Been Referring To Is George M. Cohan
November 11, 1919 Saw The Signing Of The Armistice Halting Hostilities… Which Led To The Sending Of Allied Troops Into Germany, As An Army Of Occupation. No History Of Overseas Lodge Would Be Complete Without First
Relating The Story Of The 3rd American Army Masonic Club Which Was Organized Shortly After The Army Of Occupation Moved In
The 3rd American Army (With Headquarters In Coblenz, Germany) Took Over The American Sector Of The Occupation Of Germany
• Was There Masonic Activity Commenced
• And Which Rhode Islanders Played A Big Part In Forming A Masonic Club And A Military Masonic Lodge.
The Idea To Form A Mason Club (In The Army Of Occupation) Was The Result Of A Chance Meeting Of Two Masons, In Office Of The Military Police Headquarters.
• The Desk Sargent – A Mason From Philadelphia – Recognized A Masonic Ring – On The Finger Of The Hospital Sargent Earl H. Mason Of Redwood Lodge No. 35 Of Providence RI
They Talked Masonry At Length
• Wondered How Many Masons Were Stationed In The Army Of Occupation
• Agreed It Would Be Nice To Have A Place Where Masons Could Get Together On A Regular Basis
They Decided To Schedule An Organizational Meeting In The Office Of Military Police Headquarters.. And Publicize The Fact A Masonic Club Was Being Formed
• Their Efforts Paid Of …
• 45 Masons Attended The Organizational Meeting
• Rhode Island Was Represented By Captain Elgin G. Davis Of Harmony Lodge No. 9 (Cranston )
• Sgt. Earl H. Mason Of Redwood Lodge No. 35 (Providence)
At The First Meeting;
• Elected Officers & Agreed To Hold Regular Meetings On Monday Evenings.
• Prepared A Formal Request To The Billeting Officers To Arrange Suitable Quarters They Could Rent For The Club Purposes.
• They Also Contacted The Y.M.C.A. Officials To Arrange Temporary Use Of A Room In Their Building For Their Meetings – And Use Of Their Recreational Facilities
• The Y.M.C.A. Official Graciously Authorized That, And Free Of Charge
The 1st Meeting Was Attended By Over 100 Masons …
• At Their Meetings – Were Treated With “Top Notch” Entertainment . . . Acquired From The Cabarets & Beer Gardens Of The City
• The Entertainment Was Requested By Some Masons Who Were Military Police – In Uniform, On Duty . . . And Since,
Since All Occupied Territory Was Under Marshal Law – And The Beer Gardens & Cabarets Were Depended On The Military Police For Their License – To Stay Open & Conduct Business..
• Entertainment Was Furnished Free – As The Licenses Could Hardly Afford Not To Send Their Entertainers – At The Appointed Time, On Monday Evenings.
Beer Was Also Served At The Monday Meetings – Also Free Of Charge…
• The Beer Was Confiscated Beer By The Military Police Who Were Masons, Members Of The Club.
While This Procedure Was Productive For The Club, And May Have Been Within Legal Limits,……
• Such “High Handed Methods” Certainly Were Unethical And Unmasonic Within A Month Of The Club Epestence – All Hell Broke Lose!
• Learned The Billeting Officer Has Discovered Their Doings And Rejected The Club’s Request To Rent Quarters For Their Meetings.
• They Also Discovered The Commanding General Of The 3rd American Army Had Learned Of The Club’s Dubious Activities, And … Was About To Issue An Order Disbanding The Club And Forbidding Masons To Hold Any Meeting ( In The Occupied Zone)
Obviously, Such A Distrous Result Would Have Placed A Disgraceful Stigma On The Fair Name Of Freemasonry Fortunately For Masonry …
• A Patient At The Military Hospital Was Informed Of The State Of Affairs That Had Developed By Some Doctors Who Were Concerned Masons
• They Urgently Requested His Assistance And Arranged To DischargeHim ( That Day) From The Hospital
The Patient Major Winfield S. Solomon, A Past Master Of Morning Star Lodge, And A District Deputy Grand Master Immediately Contacted The Commanding General
• He Requested A Deferment Of Action, And Also Requested A Conference, Which Was Granted.
• Major Solomon Assembled A Delegation Of Masons, All - High Ranking Officers And A Group Of Prominent Y.M.C.A. Officials.
• They Met With The General ( A Non Mason ) And Convinced Him Of Their Sincerity Of Purpose In The Cause Of Freemasonry
The General, Knowing The Men Of The Army Of Occupation Needed Wholesome Recreation…
• He Authorized The Delegation To Reorganize The Club But With Strict Orders To Function Properly
In The Re-Organization, Major Solomon Was Elected President
• From That Point On – The Club Grew “ In Leaps & Bounds”
Established Requirements For Membership In The Club Was An Official Credential – And Payment Of 20 Marks
• 20 Marks Originally Amounted To About Two American Dollars … Later About $1.50 …. However,
• If Any Brother Was Unable To Pay The Fee – He Was Admitted To Membership Without Charge – There Were No Dues
Notification Cards Were Sent To The Home Lodges Of Every Brother Who Joined The Club.
• Hundreds Of Replies Were Received … Many Of Whom Expressed Pleasure & Thanks In Hearing About The Members Whose Welfare & Where – Abouts Had Been Unknown.
The Camaraderie ( Among Soldiers & Marine ) In The Club Was Outstanding .. One Example Is .. Many Members Came From Long
Distances To Attend Meetings … Particularly Marines Who Came From 35 Miles Down The Rhine By Train – There Being No Late Trains The Marines Were Taken Home In Army Trucks. Possibly Because The Sargent In Charge Of The Motor Pool Was A Mason.
Club Membership & Activities Continued To Grow Whereby …
• A Drastic Need For A Permanent Secretary / Registrar Outside Of The Military Personnel Was Apparent
• Was Essential To Find Such An Individual Unhampered By Military Duties, If The Club’s Facilities Were To Function Properly – And Remain Available On A Full Time Basis
Again, Rhode Island Had The Right Man At The Right Place…
• A Member Of Roger Williams Lodge No. 32, The Deputy Grand Master Of The Grand Lodge Of Rhode Island – R. W. James C. Collins Was Serving In Coblenz As A Y.M.C.A. Secretary
Once Again Major Solomon Came To The Rescue ….
• At His Request, The Y.M.C.A. Authorized James Collins To Serve Full Time As The Club’s Secretary / Registrar
• He Did An Outstanding Job Full Time Until He Had To Return To Providence – To Be Installed As Grand Master Of Rhode Island masonry
And Speaking Of The Y.M.C.A. It Should Be Noted:
• The Club Learned Some Young Ladies Connected With The Y.M.C.A. – Were Taking Up A Collection To Buy Flowers To Decorate Some Graves Of American Soldiers Buried In The Allied Cemetery.
• The Club Contacted The Ladies & Arranged To Defray All Expenses …. As A Result,
• On Memorial Day, A Delegation Of Club Members Assisted The Ladies – Who Together – Decorated All 500 Graves Of American Soldiers….
• In Addition, The Club Decorated 50 Graves Of French Soldiers Buried In Coblenz.
Another Commendable Accomplishment Was The Result Of Learning That Some Masons ( In Medical Corp ) Had Identified Several Graves Of Masons Who Had Died In Coblenz
• The Club Had Crosses Made, Appropriately Lettered, And Placed On Their Grave…
• Photographs Were Taken Of Each Grave And Sent To The Respective Lodges & Families Back Home
Many Letters ( From The Lodges & Families ) Were Received Expressing Their Appreciation In Learning The Where Abouts Of Their Loved Ones.
Signers Of Cable Requesting Dispensation
St. John’s (1p) Marcus S. Cooper – Henry G. March – Harold L. Mcauslan
Mt. Vernon No 4 Isaacc Wayne Jr.
St. Albans No 6 Wendall R. Davies – Betram W. Wall – Earl K. Dunbar – William D. Mccaughey
Friendship No 7 Clifford H. Hersey
Mt. Moriah No 8 Sam Jones – Ferdinand T. Rouffy
Harmony No 9 Elgin D. Davis
Union No 10 James H. Magee
Morning Star No 13 Winfield S. Solomon – William L. Horsfoll
St. Paul’s No 14 John W. Bolton – Charles Platt
Warwick No 16 Arthur E. Hudson
Temple No 18 John M. Capron
Franklin No 20 John A. Hogg
What Cheer No 21 Harry Dyson – Marshall E. Fisher – Leon B. Lamb – Lawrence Moody – Knud W.J. Sorterup
Eureka No 22 Elliot T. Anthony
Barney Merry No 29 Charles Clarkson Jr. – David Fitzmmons – Richard E. Goff – Samuel L. Webster
Rising Sun No 30 Charles C. Luther
Roger Williams No 32 James C. Collins
Redwood No 35 Earl H. Mason
Nestell No 37 Walter E. Crocock – Albert B. Cole
Doric No 38 Percy E. Dawley
Five Of The 36 Who Signed The Cable Requesting Dispensation Were Members Of Four Lodges Of The 4th Masonic District
• One From Friendship Lodge No 7 Clifford Hersey
• One From Temple Lodge No 18 John M Capron
• Two From Morning Star Lodge No 13 DDGM Major Winfield S. Solomon And
• William L. Horsfoll
• One From Roger Williams No 32 R.W. James C. Collins Deputy Grand Master
Closing My Remarks About The 3rd American Army Club I Should Note That …..
• Attendance Swelled At Each Monday Meeting Whereby Average Attendance Was Over 400
• 538 Rhode Island Masons Composed The Largest Portion Of The Total Membership Of 3,204 Masons
Within The Total Membership Were Masons From 58 Grand Lodge Jurisdictions ….. And, From The 48 States Comprising The Union At That Time
• Also Included Were Masons From Alaska, Hawaii, Philippine Islands, Cuba, Panama, Mexico, Scotland And Ireland
A Roll Call Of Members By States Was A Feature Of Great Interest At Each Meeting
• Was A Thrill To Find A Brother From Your Own State Serving In Germany.
Another Feature Of Meeting Was Addresses By Prominent Speakers From Many Sources And Backgrounds
Among Them Were…..
The Past Grand Master Of Vermont & Ex-President Of The University Of Vermont ( Dr. Guy Benton )
The Ex-Attorney General Of Virginia ( Judge John D. Pollard)
The Head Of The American Jewish National War Bond And Past Master Of Redwood Lodge ( Col. Harry Cutler )
The Past Grand Master Of The District Of Columbia And Former Assistant Comptroller Of The United States Treasury (B.R.Ginn)
The United States Commissioner Of Education From The University Of Kentucky. ( Dr. John T. Tyigert )
The Club Ceased Operations July 31, 1919 …..
But From The Very First Meeting – Frequent Inquiries Were Made To Whether There Was Any Field Lodge Empowered To Confer Masonic Degrees ( Anywhere In The Army Of Occupation )
• There Being None – And Realizing The Fine Nucleus Of Rhode Island Masons Stationed In Germany, It Seemed Possible They Could Form An Emergency Military Lodge In Coblenz.
As A Result … All Known R.I. Masons Were Invited To A Dinner Meeting To Discuss The Situation
• The Dinner Was Sponsored By The Deputy Grand Master, James C. Collins On Behalf Of The Grand Lodge Of Rhode Island.
The Meeting Was Held At A Very Exclusive Hotel
• Was Restricted To Commissioned Officers And Y.M.C.A Welfare Workers
This Was No Major Problem For The Enlisted Men To Solve….
• Simply Showed Up Wearing Long Y.M.C.A. Coats To Cover Their Own Uniforms – And Casually Walked Through The Front Door Into The Banquet Room.
A Group Of 36 Masons From 22 Rhode Island Lodges Attended…
• After An Enthusiastic Discussion Voted To Cable The Grand Lodge Of Rhode Island Seeking Dispensation To Confer Masonic Degrees In Coblenz.
The Grand Master ( E. Tudor Gross ) Speedily Granted The Request
• Realized Further Investigation Unnecessary Due To The Prominence & Known Masonic Ability & Experience… Of Those Who Signed The Cable.
• Signers Included A Past Grand Master – The Deputy Grand Master - A District Deputy Grand Master And Two Past Masters Of Blue Lodges
The Grand Masters Dispensation Dated March 15, 1919 Did Not Arrive In Coblenz Until April 23, 1919……
• The Dispensation Specified The Lodge To Be Known As Overseas No 1, Under Dispensation …. Also,
• All Degree Work Must Be Done According To Rhode Island Ritual And Established Regulations…. Also No Short Cuts Except For Time Restrictions Between The Degrees
The Grand Master Appointed
• Past Grand Master, Wendell E Davis ( St. Albans Lodge ) To Be Master….. District Deputy Grand Master, Winfield S. Solomon
( Morning star Lodge ) To Be Senior Warden…. And , Deputy Grand Master, James C. Collins ( roger williams Lodge ) To Be Junior Warden.
• He Authorized The Master To Appoint All Other Officers
Everything Necessary To “Set Up” And “Carry On”, As A Lodge Had To Be Procured – Without The Luxury Of Borrowing From Sister Lodges…
As One Could Do At Home….
• Yet, While Waiting For The Dispensation To Arrive – All Difficulties Were Overcome
• The Preliminary Work Had To Be So Carefully Arranged – That The 1st Meeting Of Overseas Lodge Was Held ( April 24 The Day After The Dispensation Arrived ….
• All Chairs Were Filled By Rhode Islanders Except That Of The Senior Deacon Membership Fee To Join Overseas Lodge Was 200 German Marks
• Due To The Fluctuation Of Currency Rate Averaged A Maximum Of $33.05 To A Minimum Of $28.17
Although Quite Often There Was Little Time Between The Three Degrees… The Dedication & Proficiency Of The Line Officers And Candidates Was Outstanding
Several Examples Can Be Cited, But I’ll Only Take The Time For One Unusual Example.
Brother H.A. Stewart, From Indiana
1) Presented His Application On April 30
2) Received His E.A. Degree On May 5
3) F.C. On May 14th And His M.M. On May 17th
4) On May 21 Served As Junior Steward In The Lodge, And On May 31st And On June 3rd As Junior Deacon
5) Then On June 10th He Delivered The F.C. Lecture In It’s Entirety. This Was Done In About Three Weeks After Becoming A Master Mason
Brig. Gen. Parker… Took E.A. Examination As Part Of A Class Of 22
1) After Completion Of The Regular Class Examination He Requested A Special Examination….
He Proceeded To Answer All Examination Questions In A Highly Satisfactory Manner Only One Week After Taking The E.A. Degree
This Clearly Demonstrates The Great Interest Of So Many Of The Newly Made Masons.
Needless To Say – Troop Movements Were Always Cropping Up
• Caused “ Skillful Adjustments In Scheduling Degree Work – In And Around Troops
• Often Required “Special Meetings” In Different Locations
The Officers Worked “Hard & Long” In Germany Performing An Abundance Of Degree Work
• They Established A Record Of Degree Work In Coblenz That Is A Masonic Achievement – Unequalled In Freemasonry To This Day
• That Record Is:
• Raising 517 Master Masons In Only 99 Days ….. It Took A Total Of 80 Meetings…
• 15 Were Regular Scheduled Meetings,
• 65 Were “Special Meetings” At Various Different Locations
Obviously, The Officers Of Overseas Lodge Left Coblenz Feeling Justly Proud Of Their Accomplishments While Overseas
• The Foundation Of Overseas Lodge No. 1, Ud Had Been : Laid So Successfully – It Was Unthinkable To Allow This Great Achievement To “Fold Up” And “Fade Away” As Nearly All Military Lodges Had Done In The Past … Therefore,
Upon Returning To The United States – Grand Lodge Granted A Charte Officially Designating ( That After Being Constituted ) The Lodge Would Be Known As “Overseas Lodge No. 40 – Also, Since The Lodge Was Composed Of Those Who Saw Service In World War 1, Armistice Day, November 11th Was Selected For The Constitutional Ceremony ….. Also, The Annual Meeting Shall Thereafter Be On Armistice Day, November 11.
Elaborate Plans Were Made For The Constitutional Excersize
• Held Before One Of The Largest Assembledge Of Blue Lodge Masons In Rhode Island History
• Hundreds Jammed The Lodge Room – Many Brethren Left For Want Of A Space Even To Stand
During This Beautiful Ceremony:
Major General, John A Lajuene, Commandant Of The U.S. Marine Corps… ( On Behalf Of The “Made In Germany” Members )
• Presented The Lodge A Full Set Of Officers Collars And Jewels
Made Of Sterling Silver – By Gorham Manufacturing Company, World Famous Silversmiths
• Cost $ 1,871.00 Dollars – All Contributed By The Made In Germany Members Of Overseas Lodge
Unique Aspect Of These Jewels:
• Masonic Insignias Are Alternated With Military Insignias
• Also Includes A Y.M.C.A. Insignia
Overseas Lodge Aprons ( Guite Possibly ) Are The Only Masonic Aprons That Include A Military Insignia ……
• They Have The Third American Army Patch, As Does Our Beautiful Altar Cloth, And Much Of Our Other Equipment
The Novelty Of A Military Lodge From Germany ….
• Probably Explains The Numerous Invitations Throughout Southern New England To Exemplify The Different Degrees Military Style And In Service Uniforms
The First Such Visit Was To St. Johns Lodge No. 1 Of Providence On
Wednesday March 17, 1920
• Conferred E.A. Degree On March 17, 1920 After Which….
• Overseas Lodge Was Presented A Beautiful “Leather Bound Holy Bible” Signed By The Line Officers
This Was The First Of Many Gifts ( From Individuals And Lodges To Assist A New Lodge ( With Equipment Needed To Function )
• The Tremendous Outpouring Of Such Generosity Is An Example Of The Brotherhood Of Freemasonry
Other Gifts To Overseas Lodge After Returning From Germany
• Rev. L.R.S. Ferguson ( Commissioner Of Education In Minneapolis And Often Served As Chaplain In Coblenz )
• Gavel…… Made From Timber Taken From A Tree Planted By George Washington
State Senator, Ezra Dixon Of Bristol R.I. Member Of St. Albanas Lodge (November 11, 1921 )
• On Behalf Of The Grand Army Of The Republic Of Masonic Veterans.
• Sterling Silver Receptacle Box ( E.A. Minerals & Metals)
• Scottish Rite – Pair Of Silver Alms Plates ( January 10, 1922 )
• Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 4 Of Providence A Embodied Alter Cloth With 3rd American Army Patch
• Morning Star Lodge No. 13 Of Woonsocket In December 1920 Gave The Deacons & Stewards Rods & Special Stands With The 3rd American Army Insignia on Them
• St. Paul’s Lodge No. 14 Of Newport On May 31, 1920 Gave A Set Of Wardens Batos & Their Stands
• Doric Lodge No. 38 Of Cranston On March 31, 1920 Gave A Silver Square And Compasses Which Are Used On Our Bible On The Alter
• Union Lodge No. 10 Of Pawtucket Gave On May 12, 1920 A Set Of Working Tools
• Nestell Lodge No. 37 Of Providence Gave On June 8, 1920 A Ballot Box
• Franklin Lodge No. 20 Of Westerly Gave A Setting Maul For Use At The 3rd Gate
• Benjamin F. Pierce, Past Master Of Redwood Lodge No 35 Gave A Full Lambskin Emblazoned With The Army Of Occupation Insignia
Close Talk By Marking The End Of An Era”
• Took Place In Overseas Lodge In 1958
• 21 Past Masters – All World War One Veterans - Under The Gravel Of Past Master Earl Mason …. Presented An Unusual Program
• Exemplified The 3rd Degree With A “ Special Musical Accompanment ”
They Closed With An Impressive Memorial Service For The 21 Past Masters ( Raised In Germany ) Who Had Answered The “Final Bugle Call”.
After The Memorial Service:
The Past Masters Of World War One, Circuled The Lodge Greeting The Line Officers From World War Two
Brother Leonard F. Studd, ( From The British Navy ) Became The First Master ( With The Entire Line Of Officers All World War Two Veterans).
Overseas Lodge ( To This Day ) Maintains The Spirit Of Fraternalism & Brotherly Love So Evident While In The Service Of Our Country.
A Major Thrust Of Our Functioning Is “Two Fold”
• 1) To Practice Charity & Community Service
• 2) To Foster Patriotism & Service To Our Disabled And Confined Veterans…. Including Bingo Games And Gifts, ( To Those In The R.I. Veterans Home And The V.A. Hospital ….. ( We Do This Several Times Each Year) .
And Finally…. Speaking About Patriotism…. Proudly I State; Masonry Surely Follows The Flag.
• During World War 1 ( 1914 - 1918)
• 1,259 Rhode Island Masons Served In The Armed Forces
RHODE ISLAND MASONS WHO SERVED IN THE WORLD WAR 1914-1918
Saint Johns Lodge No. 1 Newport 147
Saint Johns Lodge No. 1 Providence 58
Washington Lodge No. 3 Warren 20
Mount Vernon Lodge No. 4 Providence 68
Washington Lodge No. 5 Wickford 6
Saint Albans Lodge No. 6 Bristol 11
Friendship Lodge No. 7 Chepachet 8
Mount Moriah Lodge No. 8 Limerock 16
Harmony Lodge No. 9 Pawtucket 51
Union Lodge No. 10 Pawtucket 47
King Solomons Lodge No. 11 East Greenwich 11
Manchester Lodge No. 12 Anthony 15
Morning Star Lodge No. 13 Woonsocket 21
Saint Pauls Lodge No. 14 Newport 218
Hamilton Lodge No. 15 Clayville 5
Warwick Lodge No.16 Phenix 15
Temple Lodge No. 18 Greenville 16
Franklin Lodge No. 20 Westerly 30
What Cheer Lodge No. 21 Providence 94
Eureka Lodge No. 22 Portsmouth 27
Charity Lodge No. 23 Hope Valley 7
Jenks Lodge No. 24 Central Falls 18
Hope Lodge No. 25 Wakefield 10
Granite Lodge No. 26 Harrisville 5
Corinthian Lodge No. 27 Providence 8
Barney Merry Lodge No. 29 Pawtucket 59
Rising Sun Lodge No. 30 East Providence 41
Atlantic Lodge No. 31 Block Island 20
Roger Williams Lodge No. 32 Centerdale 19
Adelphoi Lodge No. 33 Providence 3
Unity Lodge No. 34 Lonsdale 19
Redwood Lodge No. 35 Providence 32
Orpheus Lodge No. 36 Providence 31
Nestell Lodge No. 37 Providence 51
Doric Lodge No. 38 Auburn 40
Saint Andrews No. 39 Riverside 12
Total Numbers 1,259