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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes October 2003

Appeal for: North Carolina - Virginia

Hurricane Isabel caused extensive damage in the Mid-Atlantic area. The states hardest hit were North Carolina and Virginia. As of the date of this appeal many people are still without power. Several towns were left, literally, under water. There will be a long recovery time from the destruction caused by this hurricane. MSA is putting out an appeal on behalf of the Grand Lodges of North Carolina and Virginia for help in their recovery.

Assistance to these two Grand Lodges will be divided 50% North Carolina and 50% Virginia, for undesignated gifts. Designated gifts will be sent in their entirety to the Grand Lodge named.

Please forward to the MSA such funds as you feel appropriate to help our devastated Brethren and their families in these stricken jurisdictions. Please make checks payable to the MSA Disaster Relief Fund and send to the address below.

Thank you very much for your help!

Future Farmers of America

In September 1925, four members of the faculty of Virginia Polytechnic Institute located at Blacksburg, Virginia, were discussing agriculture students. They decided such students should have an organization for self-expression and pride in their farm background. Out of this discussion grew the Future Farmers of America. The FFA has degrees and rituals similar to Masonic rituals. The logo of the FFA contains the rising sun, an eagle, an owl, a plow and an ear of corn. Their colors are blue and yellow. Today the FFA has more than 400,000 members nationwide.

The four founders were all Masons.

  • Walter S. Newman Purdie Lodge #170, Windsor, VA
  • Edmond C. McGill Hunters Lodge #156, Blacksburg, VA
  • H.W. Sanders Glen Allen Lodge #131, Glen Allen, VA Henry
  • C. Groseclose Sr. Ivanhoe Lodge #235, Wytheville, VA

(Source: Norman Lincoln, Sept/Oct 2003, The Philaletic Freemason)

William Howard Taft

President, Chief Justice, made Mason at sight

Brother William Howard Taft was made a Master Mason at sight by Grand Master Charles S. Hoskinson on February 18, 1909. At the time, Taft was President-elect of the United States.

The ceremony was performed in the presence of a great gathering of Brethren assembled in the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Cincinnati. Numerous high ranking Masons from around the country and the world were present, including 18 visiting Grand Masters.

The actual ceremony was simple and brief, lasting only one hour. Grand Master Hoskinson opened an occasional communication of the Grand Lodge for the purpose of conferring upon Mr. Taft the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.

Following the ceremony, Grand Master Hoskinson presented Brother Taft with a new morocco leather Bible, which he inscribed: "To Grand Master Hoskinson, with gratitude and fraternal good wishes of William H. Taft, made a Master Mason February 18, 1909." This Bible with several other Taft artifacts is now displayed at the Grand Lodge Museum in Worthington.

At 7:30 p.m. that evening, Brother Taft, seated with the visiting Grand Officers on the stage, watched the officers and craftsmen of Kilwinning Lodge #356 confer the sublime degree of Master Mason on Brother Frank H. Heitman. At this time, the members of Kilwinning Lodge presented Brother Taft with a lambskin apron.

Brother Taft was considered a Mason at large, paying his dues to the Grand Lodge until April 14, 1909, when he affiliated with Kilwinning Lodge. Both his father and brother had been members of Kilwinning Lodge, and he maintained his membership there until his death on March 8, 1930. 

(Source: Beacon, Winter 2003)

Did You Know? What is meant by Acacia?

Genus of thorny, flowering trees or shrubs. Some similar plants are sometimes so called, i.e. locust. More than four hundred varieties are known, but in Freemasonry only one is referred to, a type of low growing shrub. From the practice of the Twelve Tribes and from the Old Testament (shittim wood is Old Testament for acacia), Freemasonry has adopted this word as a symbol of immortality. In the familiar song sung in many Master Mason degrees the word is shortened to "cassia" but has the same significance. To the Freemason the word represents a belief rather than a plant. 

(Source: MSA Digest Masonic Vocabulary)

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