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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes June 2003

Masonic Campers

A Masonic camping club, formed in 1966 with 21 families, now includes more than 20,000 members. The National Camping Travelers, Inc., is open to Master Masons in good standing with their lodge. The 38th national rally will take place at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY, on July 26-31. Participants arrive with a wide variety of camping equipment from motor homes to pup tents. 

For more information, contact Brother Robert E. Anderson, 8 Wells Ave., Salem, NH 03079, (603-893-1590), or e-mail [email protected]

 (Source: Northern Light, May 2003)

Kentucky Long Rifle

The "KENTUCKY" rifle, made in the United States from about 1750 onwards, and used by such famed frontiersmen as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, only became named such in 1815 from a popular song, The Hunters of Kentucky, which commemorated the Battle of New Orleans. Andrew Jackson later used it as a campaign song when he ran for the Presidency. But the long rifle evolved much earlier, and was produced in many Colonies/States from Pennsylvania southwards. A more appropriate designation would be "the American Long Rifle", since the long barrel differentiated it from its European ancestor, produced in the Germanic countries. Before the American Revolution, this rifle, in the Colonial era, saw a gradual development, with barrel lengths ranging from 24" to 54", and stock architecture and decoration. Bro. Peter A. Alexander, better known as The Gunsmith of Grenville County, has lovingingly made a Masonic Kentucky Long Rifle, which can be viewed at http://freemasonry.org Terence Shand, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario has given dispensation to Rising Sun Lodge No. 85, Athens, Ontario, to raffle off the Long Rifle, with the money going to the Benevolent work of the Lodge. Tickets are $5.00 each with a maximum of 7500 tickets being sold. The draw to take place on December 27, 2003.

Tickets are available from:

Mr. Fred Irish RR 2 Addison, ON K0E 1A0 Canada (613) 924-9807

The Day the War Stopped

Up the steep hill they trudged, sweating in the sticky June heat, staggering under the weight of the coffin, the white flag of truce flying before them in the hot summer sun. The guns of their federal gunboat, the USS Albatross, anchored in the Mississippi off Bayou Sara, fell silent behind them as the ship's surgeon and two officers struggled toward St. Francisville atop the hill. The procession was not an impressive one, certainly not an unusual event in the midst of a bloody war, and it would no doubt have escaped all notice but for one fact…this was the day the war stopped, if only for a few mournful moments. Lt. Commander John E. Hart, the federal commander of the Albatross, was a valiant naval officer whose skill and bravery were renowned. Commander Hart would have even more lasting impact through his death, which occurred as the Albatross lay at anchor near Bayou Sara, having shelled both that low-lying port settlement and the city of St. Francisville atop the bluffs. Masonic and U.S. Naval records list Hart as having "suicided," died by his own hand "in a fit of delirium". Perhaps he suffered from dementia induced by yellow fever, for a mere four days earlier he had certainly exhibited no depression or despair in a letter home. Hart was a Mason, and aboard his ship were other officers also "members of the Craft," desirous of burying their commander ashore rather than consigning the remains to the river waters. A boat was sent from the Alabatross under a flag of truce to ascertain if there were any Masons in the town of St. Francisville. Now it just so happened that the two White brothers living near the river were Masons, and they informed the little delegation that there was indeed a Masonic lodge in the town, in fact one of the oldest in the state, Feliciana Lodge No. 31. Its Master was absent, serving in the Confederate Army and its Senior Warden, W.W. Leake, was likewise engaged. But, according to Masonic correspondence, "Brother Leake's headquarters were in the saddle," he was reported to be in the vicinity, and he was soon found and persuaded to honor the request. As a soldier, Leake reportedly said "He considered it his duty: to permit burial of a deceased member of the armed forces of any government, even one presently at war with his own, and as a Mason, he knew it to be his duty to accord Masonic burial to the remains of a brother Mason without taking into account the nature of their relations in the outer world." The surgeon and officers of the USS Albatross, struggling up from the river with Hart's body, were met by W.W. Leake, the White brothers and other members of the Masonic lodge. In the procession was also a squad of Marines at trail arms. They were met at Grace Episcopal Church by the Reverend Mr. Lewis, Rector, and with full Episcopal and Masonic services, Commander John E. Hart was laid to rest in the Masonic burial lot in Grace's peaceful cemetery, respect being paid by Union and Confederate soldiers alike. And soon the war resumed. But for one brief touching moment, the war had stopped at St. Francisville. 

(Source: Re-enactment Brochure, St. Francisville, LA)

Editors Note: There will be a re-enactment of the burial of Commander John Hart on Sat. June 14, 2003. For information: Phone 225-635-3873; Website: www.daythewarstopped.com

Did You Know? What is Meant by "Level"?

Tool to indicate parallelism with the horizon. Symbolically, like square, the level has come into common use as meaning honorable. "On the level" is similar to "on the square" and "to level with him" means to deal honestly and truthfully. In Masonry, "we meet upon the level and part upon the square" is an expression with the same connotations; derived from the level and square as working tools, first of a stone mason, then of a Speculative Mason. 

(Source: MSA Digest Masonic Vocabulary)

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