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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes January 2011

Masonic Symbol Baffles Experts

         A mystery symbol cast into two of the driving wheels of a preserved 118-year-old British-built steam locomotive has baffled experts on both sides of the world.

         The symbol was discovered during recent repair work on P class 4-6-0 No. 3237 Lachlan at Eveleigh depot in Sydney and is thought to have been on the locomotive since being built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester in 1892.

         It appears to be the Masonic symbol of a craftsman’s square and compass and is cast into the two rear driving wheels beside the number 8583 which is also unexplained.

         According to the Beyer Peacock archives, No. 3237 was one of two standard gauge compound locomotives built at the company’s Gorton works for NSW Railways and was dispatched to Australia from Manchester on 15 February 1893.

         No. 3237 subsequently became part of the Lachlan Valley Railway Society collection and returned to service in 2007 after a 27-year restoration.

         The group has identified the symbol as that of the Freemasons logo but has been unable to establish why it is there or what the number refers to.

         Sarah Roe, press and publicity officer at the Museum, (Manchester Museum of Science and Industry), said “We don’t have any light to shed on the masonic symbols, other than the fact that masons were active in business in Manchester at that time. It is quite likely that an individual foundry man who was part of the masons added it as his own sign.”

(Source: This article was taken from “Freemason” Dec. 2010 the official Journal of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory with further credit to the writer Geoff Courtney and the Heritage Railway Magazine of England)


Did You Know?  What is the “Indented Tessel”?

        Ornamental border surrounding mosaic pavement.


Ernest Borgnine

            Bro. Borgnine – well known actor and Freemason – has been nominated to receive the Life Time Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. The award presentation is scheduled for Sunday, January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles and will be carried on TV by TNT.

            Bro. Borgnine is a long time Freemason whose Mother Lodge is Abingdon Lodge #48, Abingdon, VA. He is also a Scottish Rite Mason, Southern Jurisdiction and has been honored with the Grand Cross Award.

            More recently he received the York Rite Medal of Honor from the York Rite Sovereign College of North America and the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

            The only other Mason to receive the Life Time Achievement Award was Red Skelton in 1987.

(Source: Bro. Edward Fowler, PGM Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania)

Giuseppe Bentonelli

            Giuseppe Bentonelli was a world-famous operatic tenor in the first half of the 1900’s. He sang at the Met, at La Scala, at the Lisbon Opera, the Cairo Opera, and the Chicago Opera, among many others. He was hailed as one of the finest tenors of all time. And he had a secret.

            Giuseppe Bentonelli was really Brother Joe Benton, from Sayre, Oklahoma!

            There are fads in opera, just as in everything else. When he started his singing career in the 1920’s it was universally “agreed” that while America produced fine sopranos and even baritones, just as England produced fine contraltos, only Italy could produce a really good tenor. And so, at the suggestion of his singing coach, Joe Benton, product of the music department at the University of Oklahoma, translated his first name into Italian, added “elli” to his last name, and became Giuseppe Bentonelli. And his career never looked back. He became the first American male singer to be universally accepted in Europe, and was voted one of the four best tenors in Italy in 1934.

            My father, Jack Tresner, Sr. knew him and sometimes told me stories about him. He loved a good joke, had a strong laugh, and was “one of the most humble and genuine men you could hope to meet.” And his voice was legendary.

            He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1898, but at age two moved with his family to a farm at Sayre. At 17, he went to the University of Oklahoma, from which he earned three degrees—a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French in 1920 (the same year he was raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason, at Norman Lodge #38, on November 22), a Bachelor of Music in Voice in 1921, and a Master of Arts in Modern Languages in 1941. On October 24, 1940, he received the 32nd Degree at the Guthrie Temple. In 1944 he retired from the stage and returned to Norman, where he served as Professor of Music until his retirement in 1969. He died on April 6, 1975.

            Oklahoma is justly proud of Brother Benton, whose portrait hangs in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. And we can also be justly proud of him as the Oklahoma Mason who took the operatic world by storm, while remaining true to his roots.

(Source: Bro. Jim Tresner, Grand Historian, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma)


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