St Albans 20  -  Marshall  Mi
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Although nothing definite is known concerning the origin of Freemasonry, it is possible that something regarding its antiquity might be helpful in considering the history of Masonry in Marshall.

Starting with the inscription on the corner of our temple here in Marshall, we find this reads A.L. 5913. This informs us that the corner stone of our Temple was laid during the Masonic year 5913. As the A.L. stands for “year of light” and Webster connects this A.L. with Freemasonry so we find that by subtracting the 4000 years which are supposed to have elapsed before the Christian era, that our Temple was started in A.D. 1913.

As geologists and other physical scientists claim that their discoveries prove that the world haws existed many, many thousands of years before the beginning of history, it is possible that this Masonic Light Year alludes to some great spiritual or mental light, rather than to the physical light of the sun, or perhaps to some great epoch in biblical history, such as the discovery by the Children of Israel that there was but one God, and not, as other nations believed, many gods.

At any rate we know that the light we receive in modern Masonry is mental, rather than physical and in many places where excavations have been made uncovering the ruins of ancient temples and other structures, we find Masonic symbols engraved in the rock which are enough like the symbols used by modern Masons to prove them to be identical.

A previous account of Masonic History in Marshall written by Brother Craig C. Miller, who has since passed on, and to whom we owe some of the data most of the dates given in this sketch, tells us of a few of the sources to which the origin of Freemasonry is attributed. We will copy those for the benefit of our readers. Here they are –The Knights Templar, the Roman Empire, the Pharaohs, Hiram of Tyre, the Temple of Solomon, the building of the Tower of Babel, the Ark of Noah and some claim that certain signs on the Great Pyramids are Masonic Symbols. Brother Miller furnishes us with the additional information that Scotland possesses the earliest record of Masons in Lodges, tracing their origin back to the foreign abbeys of Holyrood, Kilwinning and Melrose. Also that Masonry in England dates back to the year 926, when King Athelstan held a meeting of Masons at York. Modern Masonry was introduced into France in 1725, into America in 1730, into Russia in 1731 and into Germany in 1740.

Some claim that a Jewish Brotherhood which started in Palestine about two centuries before the Christian era was connected with Masonry. This Brotherhood called themselves Essenes, the name meaning to be strong of will or purpose and their objective was to attain perfection in all things.

A historic sketch of Early Masonry in Michigan gives us the following information. “Acting comfortably with the previously stated recommendations of the Grand Lodge, Zion Lodge, Detroit Lodge and Oakland Lodge, applied to the Grand Lodge of New York for Charters. It is recorded that on June 8, 1844, these Charters were granted, without charge, the committee on warrants stating, ‘The committee has read with pleasure the applications from three lodges in Michigan, who have for many years suspended their labors, to be again revived under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge from which they formerly held their respective warrants. The committee believes that this course of their brethren of Michigan will be attended with happy results in cementing that fraternal feeling which should exist among nations and rebound to the permanent interest of the brethren of the state.’”

The first authentic record we have of a Masonic Lodge in Marshall was Marshall Lodge #20, which was given a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Michigan on October 1, 1847 and the record goes on to state that the Grand Lodge in Ample form assembled, according to the old constitution, regularly established under the Auspices of Prince Edwin at the City of York in Great Britain in the year 4926, acting upon the recommendation of the Masters, Wardens and members of Battle Creek Lodge No. 12 granted this dispensation which was in force until a charter was granted it on January 14, 1848. This charter was held until St. Albans Lodge, which had been working under dispensation since March 11, 1854, was granted a charter as St. Albans Lodge No. 20, when the charter of Marshall Lodge No. 20 was surrendered. St. Albans was granted a charter on January 11, 1855. The name St. Albans comes from a saint of the Angelican Church, who became a protomartyr, or first martyr of Britain.

According to the records of the Grand Lodge of Michigan, a charter was granted to still another lodge in Marshall, Calhoun County, Michigan and this charter was granted to Marshall Lodge No. 294 on January 11, 1871, so that from that date until June 8, 1878 there were, again, two lodges in Marshall. On June 8, 1878 a committee was appointed to convey property of Marshall Lodge No. 294 to St. Albans No. 20, and on this date all members of Marshall Lodge No. 294 were given demits to take effect at the close of the meeting, other demits having been granted on April 25, 1878. Final consolidation became effective January 28, 1879.

In the original record of the Constitution and By-Laws of St. Albans No. 20, we find, written in longhand that the fee for the E.A. Degree was to be $7.00, the F.C. Degree $5.00 and the M.M. Degree $5.00. For the initiation of clergyman, the fee was $1.00 more, same to be paid in advance, in all cases.

Later, we find that the fee for the E.A. Degree was reduced to $2.00, F.C. Degree to $3.00 and M.M. to $5.00, no mention being made of reduced rates to clerglymen.

Looking over those records, from 1861 to 1865 we find no mention made of war, although those must have been hectic years with families divided, brother fighting against brother and one might expect to find something regarding this in the lodge records, but the only thing we could find which touched upon the war in any wayl was the fact that no dues were to be collected from those in the army.

Moving ahead to the year 1928 we find that Marshall was considered as a possible location for a Masonic Home, and great preparations were made, various sites were considered—and then Old Man Disappointment came along to inform us that the City of Alma had been chosen because it was more centrally located, Masonically, than Marshall. Oh well, “Man proposes but God disposes,” as the French say. At any rate, Alma is not far from Marshall and some of our boys do really drive.

Like the speaker who kept saying “just one more word” until the tired man in the back part of the room shouted, “after another”, so I am going to add another word, or two, regarding Masonry and its place in community life.

Masonry bars no man because of his religion, provided that religion is in accord with divine precepts and civil law, for Masonry teaches us that man’s first duty is to God, next to his fellow man and country. Masonry being based on the Bible contains nothing which should be objectionable to those who accept the Bible as the chart of life.

Masonry is not supposed to be a church, nor is it supposed to take the place of a church, and some church goers might be surprised to find that some of the best workers in the congregation were Masons. This quite often happens.

Dictators have no use for Freemasonry, and one of the first things a dictator does when he becomes the “government” is to banish all Masons from the land, and destroy their property, not because they are not loyal citizens, but because they are taught to think for themselves, and accept as logical only those things which are capable of proof. Masons revere geometry and allied sciences, because through a knowledge of these they are able to accomplish things which are helpful to humanity. A dictator’s desire is to rule humanity, while the desire of Freemasonry is to help humanity to help themselves. In other words, Masonry teaches one to accept individual responsibility.

As the 1st and 3rd verses of 133rd Psalm seem, to me, to describe the foundation and superstructure of Freemasonry, we will close with these verses:

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity! As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended from the mountains of Zion for therein the Lord commanded the b lessing, even live for evermore.”

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