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Famous Masons

History is full of important and famous Masons, many you may know others you may not. A quick Google Search will bring you hundreds of pages filled with names and faces. In our Lodge we are beginning a monthly Masonic Education section where we highlight a couple or three Masons and learn about them. The Masons we discuss will be added here after each lesson, so check back often!


 
Robert Peary
Rear Admiral Robert Peary  

This Mason was born May 6, 1856 at Cesson Springs, PA. He graduated from Bowdoin College, Maine in 1877.

He was commissioned in the Navy as a civil engineer in 1881 and led several explorations to Greenland and points north from 1886 to 1909. He outlined the northern limits of the Greenland Archipelago in 1898. In 1908 he embarked on his famous trip on which he arrived at the North Pole on April 6, 1909 with several other companions. He was given the rank of Rear Admiral in 1911 and died in Washington in Feb. 1920.

He received his degrees in Kane Lodge No. 454, New York City in 1896. He presented the Lodge the Masonic Flag that was raised on May 20-25, 1895, at Independence Bay, Greenland.

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Duke Kahanamoku
Duke Kahanamoku  

Born Aug. 24, 1890, the son of a Hawaiian police officer, he became known as the father of surfing.

He was taught to swim at a very early age in the traditional manner – rowed out to sea and thrown into the surf. He started his competitive career in 1911 in Hawaii’s first Amateur Athletic Union sponsored swim meet, breaking a world record in the 100yard freestyle. In the 1920 Olympics he captured two gold medals. He was one of the first three inductees into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965.

After a brief film career, he served as County Sheriff of Honolulu from 1934-1960 and then as the Official Greeter of Honolulu. He died in 1968.

This brother was a member of Hawaiian Lodge No. 21.

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Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers  

This Mason was born Sept. 8, 1925 in Southsea, England. He studied at St. Aloysious College, Highgate, and served with the Royal Air Force in World War II.

He began his acting career with the Windmill Theatre, London, in 1948 and appeared in many performances on stage, radio, TV and films, predominantly in comedy roles. He received the Best Film Actor award of the Variety Club, Great Britain in 1960.

He died 20 years later in London, July 23,1980.

He was a member of Chelsea Lodge No. 3098, London, a lodge with many members from the entertainment world. He was initiated in 1948, passed in 1949 and raised in 1951.

He is best known for his Pink Panther Films.

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Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV  

Born in 1883 in Walla Walla, Wash. this brother graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1906. He served in France during WWI and was appointed a Major General to command the Philippine division in 1940.

Commanding North Luzon forces during the opening days of the Japanese invasion in December 1941, he redeployed American forces to defensive positions on the Bataan Peninsula.

On 11 March 1942, after Gen. Douglas MacArthur left for Australia, this brother assumed command of U.S. forces on Bataan and the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay. Promoted to lieutenant general and put in command of all U.S. forces in the Philippines, he proved unable to prevent the collapse of resistance on Bataan on 8 April. In order to ensure continued resistance of U.S. forces in other areas of the Philippines, he released them from his control shortly before he surrendered the U.S. forces on Corregidor on 6 May. Gen. Homma Masahura, commander of a Japanese force invading Corregidor, refused to accept this partial surrender. Out of concern for those already in captivity, our brother ordered the capitulation of all U.S. forces, and more than 80,000, Americans and Filipinos then surrendered to the Japanese.

This mason spent the remainder of the war in a series of Japanese prisoner‐of‐war camps. Liberated in Manchuria in 1945, the frail, emaciated general took part in the formal surrender ceremonies aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Greeted with a hero's welcome upon his return to the United States, he resumed active service for a brief time before retiring in 1947.

He was a member of Union Lodge No.7, Junction City, Kan., receiving all three degrees on May 16, 1946. He also belonged to Scottish Rite bodies of Salina, Kan. He was invested with the KCCH by the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, in 1947 and the following year was presented the Grand Lodge of New York’s Masonic Achievement Medal.

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Emmet Kelley
Emmet Kelley  

Born in Kansas, 1898, he worked as a cartoonist in Kansas City until joining the circus in 1931. Two years later he created his famous “Weary Willie” trademark and was with Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey from 1942-65. He also starred in some motion picture roles.

He was a member of Sarasota Lodge No. 417 in Sarasota, FL, where he died in 1979.

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James Harold Doolittle
James Harold Doolittle  

This mason was born in Alameda, CA in 1896. He graduated from the University of CA and M.I.T. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1917-30 and as a pilot won several trophies. He was employed by the Shell Petroleum Co. from 1030-1940 and returned to the Air Corps in 1940 as a Major. He led a flight of 16 B-25 Bombers from the aircraft carrier “Hornet” on a bombing mission in 1942. For his service he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and received the Medal of Honor. He retired from the Air Force in 1946.

He died in 1993.

This mason received his Masonic degrees in 1918 as a result of dispensations by two Grand Lodges. Under a special dispensation from the Grand Lodge of CA, Hollenbeck Lodge # 319 voted on Aug. 8, 1918 that he receive his degrees. Because he was stationed in Louisiana. The grand Lodge of that state gave Lake Charles Lodge # 165 a dispensation to confer all three degrees on Aug. 16, 1918. He later joined the Scottish Rite Valley of San Diego in 1918 and received the 33 degree in 1945.

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Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas  

This mason was born in Vermont in 1813. He moved to Illinois, where he was admitted to the bar in 1834. He was judge of the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841, a representative in Congress from 1843-47 and a U.S. Senator from 1847-61.

He was defeated by Buchanan for the Democratic nomination for president in 1856 and by Lincoln in 1860 following a heated series of debates. He died in 1861.

This mason was raised in Springfield Lodge No. 4 on June 26, 1840, and the following October was named Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Illinois but declined to serve. In December of that year he was elected Junior Warden of Springfield Lodge. Masonic services were held the evening before his funeral.

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Christian Frederick Martin, Sr.
Christian Frederick Martin, Sr.  

On January 31, 1796, in Markneukirchen, Germany, this mason was born into a long line of cabinet makers. He took up the family craft at the early age and at 15 left his hometown and traveled to Vienna to apprentice with Johann Stauffer, a renowned stringed instrument maker.

This mason and his family had long been members of the Cabinet Makers Guild, as had numerous other stringed instrument makers in the area. Looking to limit competition, the Violin Makers Guild sought to prohibit the cabinet makers from producing musical instruments.

While the cabinet makers successfully defended their right to manufacture guitars, the drawn battle took its toll on this mason. Concluding that the guild system severely limited opportunities in Germany, he made the decision to emigrate to the United States, and on September 9, 1833, he left his homeland for New York City.

On arriving in New York, he quickly set up shop at 196 Hudson Street on the Lower West Side. His first establishment on these shores was a far cry from the company’s current 84,000-square-foot factory staffed by nearly 500 employees. His modest storefront housed a limited guitar production set-up in the back room, as well as a retail store selling everything from cornets to sheet music.

His company’s steadfast adherence to high standards of musical excellence, mixed with experienced management, has largely accounted for the company’s remarkable longevity. They are now in their 178 year and are presided over by a sixth generation family member.

He was made a mason in the Saxony Area of Germany around 1820 and before he left for America, he requested a Patent or Certificate to take with him to the Masonic Fraternity in the U.S. Much like passports of today, it introduced him, and requested that he be granted the full rights and privileges of a mason in his new adopted country.

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Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur  

Born in 1880 in Little Rock, Arkansas. this descendant of a long line of military men. His father, was a well-known general. Educated in a random fashion on the rugged Western frontier posts, he recalled, "I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write.

He was further educated at West Point, graduating at the top of his class in 1903. From 1904 to the outbreak of World War I, he held posts in the Philippines, Japan, Mexico and the U.S. He served in Europe in WWI and was a Brigadier General by 1918. He was appointed Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in 1930. He retired in 1937, but FDR called him back to serve again in the Philippines.

He died April 5, 1964, a soldier to the end, at the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital.

He was made “A Mason at Sight” by M.W. Samual Hawthorne, Grand Mster of the Philippenes on Jan. 17, 1936; he affiliated with Manila Lodge No. 1. On Dec. 8, 1947, he was coroneted a 33 degree Mason in a private library in Tokyo, Japan.

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Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson
Christopher Houston 'Kit' Carson  

This mason was born on Dec. 24, 1809 in Madison County, Kentucky. He moved to Missouri as an infant. At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a saddler but ran away to New Mexico two hears thereafter.

He was an Indian Scout, guide, trapper and soldier. His career was experienced throughout the western states and territories. He gained renown for his role as John C. Fremont's guide in the American West. Carson also played a minor role in California during the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War.

He died in Carson City, Nevada, on May 24, 1868.

This mason received his degrees in 1854 in Montezuma Lodge No. 109, then under Missouri charter. When Bent Lodge No. 4 was chartered, he demitted to this lodge in 1860 and became its first Junior Warden. He reaffiliated with his mother lodge in 1865 and remained a member to his death.

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James Hubert "Eubie" Blake
James Hubert 'Eubie' Blake  

This mason was born in Baltimore, MD, and died in New York City on Feb. 12, 1983.

Both parents were former slaves, and he was the only one of their eleven children who lived to be an adult. As a child he learned to play the organ in a local brothel and in 1901, was engaged by Dr. Frazier’s Medicine Show in Fairfield, PA. Soon he was appearing in vaudeville in Atlantic City and writing songs. He met Brother Noble Sissle in 1915 and they collaborated on a song which was sung by Sophie Tucker. Soon thereafter they became members of an orchestra conducted by James Reese Europe at the Clef Club in New York City.

Following WWI, this mason and Sissle formed an act called the Dixie Duo and performed on the Keith Vaudeville Circuit. They wrote a show (Shuffle Along) for Broadway in 1921 and achieved instant fame -- it was the first all-black show to gain success on Broadway. He continued to turn out shows for Broadway; in all he published over 300 songs. He retired in 1946, earned a music degree at NYU (at age 63) and came out of retirement in the late 1960,s to appear on television and make new records. In 1981 he received the Medal of Freedom.

This Brother was honored in a set of stamps issued by the USPS in1995 depicting jazz musicians. This Mason and Noble Sissle, were members of Medina Lodge No. 19, Prince Hall Affiliation.

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Ignaz Joseph Pleyel
Ignaz Joseph Pleyel  

Born June 1, 1757, in Ruppertal, Austria this mason developed into a noted pianist and studied under Hayden. He made a concert tour through Italy and France in 1786.

In 1789 he became the musical director of the cathedral of Strasbourg. As a result of the French Revolution he was forced to flee to London. He returned to Paris in 1795 and published music there. In total, this brother published 20 symphonies and sonatas.

Austria issued a stamp in June 2007 to mark the 250th Anniversary of the birth of this brother. Every Mason is familiar with the funeral dirge, which he wrote, used in the the um Goldenen Rad” (Golden Wheel) in Eberau, now Austria.

He died died Nov. 14, 1831 in Paris, France.

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Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb
Tyrus Raymond 'Ty' Cobb  

Born Dec. 18, 1886, this mason matured into a 6 foot, 1 inch tall, 175 pound baseball legend who threw right-handed, batted left-handed and played center field.

He started with the Augusta Club in the South Atlantic League and in 1905 played 41 games for the Detroit Tigers batting only .240. The next year he raised his average to .320 and never slipped below that figure again. Three times he exceeded .400 with a top figure of .420 in 1911. This lifetime average was .367, the highest in baseball history.

In 1925 he told reporters he would deliberately swing for the fence on May 5 -- he hit three home runs, a double and two singles.

This brother joined Royston Lodge No. 52, GA, in 1907. He also joined the Scottish Rite in Detroit in 1912 and the Moslem Shrine Temple the same year.

He died July 17, 1961.

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John Hancock
John Hancock  

He was one of the early revolutionary activists and served as president of the First and second Provincial Congresses, a member of the Continental Congress and as a Major general during the War. After independence was achieved he remained active in public affairs serving as the first governor of Massachusetts, elected to 12 terms.

He was active in the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and as president of Congress, and was the first to sign it.

This mason received his degrees in Merchant’s Lodge No. 1, Quebec, Canada in 1760 and 1762 while on business trips there. Upon returning to Boston he affiliated with the Lodge of St. Andrew on Oct. 14, 1762.

He died in 1793.

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Matthew Alexander Henson
Matthew Alexander Henson  

Born in Charles County, MD, Aug. 8, 1866, he was a skilled navigator with a fluent command of the Eskimo language and accompanied Admiral Robert E. Peary on all of his polar expeditions. He may have been the first man to reach the North Pole in 1909, and he raised the American flag.

This mason was a member of Celestial Lodge No. 3, Prince Hall grand Lodge of New York and was initiated Nov. 5, 1904.

He was honored along with Brother Robert E. Peary, on a U.S. stamp issued on June 4, 1986.

He died March 9, 1955, and buried in New York city. In April 1988, his remains were transferred to the Arlington National Cemetery.

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)  

This mason was born Nov. 30, 1835 in Florida, MO, he moved with his family at the age of four to Hannibal on the banks of the Mississippi River. He always claimed that as he came in with Halley’s Comet, he would also exit with it -- a claim which turned out to be true.

He was initiated in Polar Star Lodge No. 79, St. Louis, MO, on May 22, 1861.

He adopted a pseudonym while working as a newspaper reporter which means “two fathoms deep“ -- the minimum depth required for a riverboat‘s safe passage.

He died on April 21, 1910

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Roy Claxton Acuff
Roy Claxton Acuff  

This mason was born Sept. 15, 1903, in Maynardsville, TN, and move to Knoxville when he was 16.

He played baseball well enough to be invited to sign a contract with the New York Yankees. Instead, he opted to fiddle and sing gospel music and joining the “Doc” Hauer medicine show, he learned how to entertain an audience.

He formed a band, played on radio in 1934, made recordings and launched himself on his trip be become “The King of Country Music”.

In 1938 he was invited to appear on the Grand Ole Opry and was an immediate hit. He also had a brief political career unsuccessfully running for governor in 1948.

He appeared in eight movies, recorded 316 songs and was the first living performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

This brother was initiated Oct. 11, 1943, passed on Jan. 10, 1944, and raised on Feb. 21, 1944, in East Nashville Lodge No. 560, Nashville, TN. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in 1944 in the Nashville Consistory and jointed the shrine at Nashville in 1944. He became a member of the Edward G. Corbitt chapter No. 147, Nashville council No. 1 and Nashville Commandery No. 1 – all in 1955 and all of Nashville. TN.

In the 1980s, after the death of his wife, Mildred, Acuff moved into a house on the Opryland grounds, and continued performing. He died in Nashville on November 23, 1992.

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Richard Evelyn Byrd
Richard Evelyn Byrd  

This mason was born 1888 and graduated from the Navel Academy in 1912. In 1927 he and three companions flew the first trans-Atlantic airmail from New York to Paris.

He established Little America on the Bay of Whales in the Antarctica in 1929 and made additional expeditions to the Antarctica in 1933-35, 1939 and 1955-57. He was awarded three special Congressional medals and died March 11, 1957.

Our brother was made a Mason in Federal Lodge No.1, Washington, DC, in 1921 and was raised on March 19 of that year. He affiliated with Kane Lodge No. 454 of New York city on Sept. 18, 1928. He dropped his fez on the South Pole during his first expedition there. On this second expedition the 60 Masons, of the team of 82, established First Antarctic Lodge No. 777 under New Zealand Constitution. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Grand Lodge of New York in 1947. He was pictured on a U.S. stamp issued on Sept. 14, 1988.

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Nat "King" Cole
Nat 'King' Cole  

This mason was a member of Thomas Waller Lodge No. 49, of Los Angeles, CA, being initiated on Jan. 9, 1944. This lodge was named for the legendary jazz musician, "Fats Waller, himself a Prince Hall Freemason. This mason was pictured on a stamp issued by Gambia on July 25, 1996 as part of a set of stamps to honor radio entertainers.

One of five siblings, whose real name was Nathaniel Adams, was born on March 17,1919, in Montgomery, AL. Ayear later the family moved to Chicago where his father was a Baptist Church pastor and this mason sang and played the piano there. While attending high school he played piano for a band led by his brother Eddie, and in 1921, he played in an all-black musical revue in New York city.

He organized a Trio in 1938. He launched his career as a singer in 1943, appeared in seven motion pictures, and was guest on many television shows.

He died of cancer on Feb. 25, 1967 and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.

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Richard Edward "Eddy" Arnold
Richard Edward 'Eddy' Arnold  

This brother was pictured on a stamp issued by Antigua on Aug. 18, 1994, as part of a set to honor movie actors. He was a 64-year member of East Nashville Lodge No. 560, being raised on March 21, 1944. Later that year, our brother became a member of the Scottish Rite and Shrine in Nashville.

Born May 15, 1918 in Chester County, TN, he gained radio experience in Jackson, Memphis and St. Louis. In 1944 he began recording for RCA Victor and continued to win favor with audiences by branching out into movies and television.

He received the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award in 1985. One of his recordings was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Recording Academy gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He died May 8, 2008 in Nashville.

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Sam Houston
Sam Houston  

This brother was shown on a stamp issued by the U. S. to commemorate the centenary of his death; it was released on Jan. 10, 1964.

In 1813 he joined the army and gained the respect of his commander, Gen. Andrew Jackson. The two became close friends. In 1817, he joined Jackson's lodge, Cumberland Lodge No.8, Nashville, TN.

Born in March 1793 in Virginia, he moved to Tennessee with his family, after the death of his father. At the age of 16 he left home to live among the Cherokee Indians who adopted him into their tribe with the name "Colonneh" (The Raven).

He was elected to Congress in 1823 and 1825 and became Governor of Tennessee in 1827. President Jackson sent him to Texas to deal with the Indians in 1832. He took a leading role in the move for Independence of Texas and was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army. His unique maneuvers in April 1836 enabled his men to defeat Santa Anna's larger force in only 18 minutes.

He was twice elected president of the republic and presided over the Masons which formed the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas. After annexation, he served as senator and governor but was removed from office when he refused to support the Confederacy. He retired to his farm near Huntsville and died in July 1863.

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