Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Freemasonry

Continuing with Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]" 

Freemasonry is the most ancient of all fraternities in the world.  Freemasonry as we know it today has been in existence since 1717.  Defined as a fraternity, it is therefore only open to the male population. It is believed that this tradition finds its roots in the historical male membership of stonemasons guilds during the Middle Ages.  Men would travel very far from their homes to acquire masonry work and while doing so would live in lodges during the construction of great cathedrals throughout Europe.  No one knows for sure, but the language and symbols used in the rituals of the fraternity come from this era.  Masons are referred to in the Regius Poem printed in 1390.  Four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England and that is where records of this fraternity become more available.

Freemasonry was popular in Colonial America and included; George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, so on and so forth.  It supported the first public schools in both Europe and America, the formation of democratic governments, orphanages, homes for widows and the aged.  Today it is a fraternity that encourages self-improvement, social involvement and philanthropy. 

Almost every lodge is chartered by a Grand Lodge, one in each state. Although open to all men, their membership is mainly Caucasian.   In the U.S. and elsewhere, there are also 45 "Prince Hall" Grand Lodges whose memberships mainly consist of African American men.  Each of these Grand Lodges also charters individual lodges.  You can find a list of all Grand Lodges in the world at wonderful website authored by Paul M. Bessel  http://www.bessel.org/gls.htm 

Women would eventually be included as an extension of the founding fraternity during the 1800s, so they could share in the Masonic fraternalism.  The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest of the Masonic-related groups.  It was first conceptualized in 1850, and was followed by the Order of the Amaranth was officially organized in 1873 and the White Shrine of Jerusalem was organized in 1894.  Eventually there would develop women only organizations; Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America, Daughters of the Nile, Daugthers of Mokanna and the Social Order of Beauceant

In the 1920s Masonic-related youth organizations for young women were formed; 1920 the International Order of Job's Daughters, and in 1922 the International Order of Rainbow for Girls.  These organizations promote local charities, community services and educational programs. 

 If a male ancestor was a member in your family, it was because he petitioned to join.  There is no solicitation for membership.  Potential members agree to have their morals and character investigated at the time of petition for membership.  They must be living a life that reflects the high standards of the this fraternal organization. 

If you are looking for information on a Mason, you must go to his Grand Lodge or Lodge.  There isn't a main location to access all information on Masons.  There never has been.  You can access Masonic genealogy by one of two avenues.

1.)  The Grand Lodge annually published 'PROCEEDINGS.'  This is equivalent to minutes, so to speak of the activities that occured during the year and may include the names of officials who held office or members.  Some Grand Lodges publish histories and you may find information in those publications.  Both these types of publications are available in Masonic Libraries.  You can find a list of Masonic Libraries at  http://www.bessel.org/maslibs.htm

2.)  You can contact the Grand Lodge in the state of interest for your ancestor.  They may or may not be able to help you.  You can also find a list of notable freemasons at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Freemasonshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Freemasons

There is no guarantee that you will find information on your ancestor, but it is another avenue to pursue. 
 

The Mayflower Society

Continuing with Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]"

I will now continue my discussion with The Mayflower Society.

The Mayflower Society -- http://www.themayflowersociety.com

Did you know that there are more than 10 million descendants in the world from 51 of the Pilgrims who journeyed on the Mayflower, landing on these shores in 1620? It's an amazing number that is hard to conceptualize. In the history of mankind, 400 years ago is a drop in the bucket!

The Mayflower Society (also called The General Society of Mayflower Descendents) was founded in 1897 with the purpose of descendants honoring the memory of their Pilgrim ancestors. Anyone who can present documentation of being a descendent from one of the 102 passengers who arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower can apply. Your lineage has to be approved by a Historian General and then you may become a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. The port of arrival for the Mayflower is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower Society educates the public on the role of the Pilgrims in the history of what we now call the United States of America. You can find chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. To view the contact information for all 50 states on the Mayflower website, click here.

This is an exact quote from the Mayflower Society website:


"Any person able to document their descent from one or more of the following Mayflower Pilgrims is eligible to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society: • John Alden • Bartholomew Allerton • Isaac Allerton • Mary (Norris) Allerton • Mary Allerton • Remember Allerton • Elinor Billington • Francis Billington • John Billington • William Bradford • Love Brewster • Mary Brewster • William Brewster • Peter Browne • James Chilton • Mrs. James Chilton • Mary Chilton • Francis Cooke • John Cooke • Edward Doty • Francis Eaton • Samuel Eaton • Sarah Eaton • Moses Fletcher • Edward Fuller • Mrs. Edward Fuller • Samuel Fuller • Samuel Fuller (son of Edward) • Constance Hopkins • Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins • Giles Hopkins • Stephen Hopkins • John Howland • Richard More • Priscilla Mullins • William Mullins • Degory Priest • Joseph Rogers • Thomas Rogers • Henry Samson • George Soule • Myles Standish • Elizabeth Tilley • John Tilley • Joan (Hurst) Tilley • Richard Warren • Peregrine White • Resolved White • Susanna White • William White • Edward Winslow"


My Mayflower ancestors are William and Susanna White and their son Resolved White who was 5 years old when the ship embarked for the new world. It is a fascinating journey to research your ancestral history on such a landmark voyage. In fact, Susanna was seven months pregnant when she set foot on the Mayflower and would give birth to the first child born in the new world. They named the child Peregrine (Latin origin, pronounced PARE-a-green)which means "traveler or wanderer." His cradle is owned by and still exists in the Pilgrim Hall Museum (America's Museum of Pilgrim Possessions). The museum is located at 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA. At the museum, you will also find what tradition indicates is the writing desk belonging to William White which he brought over on the Mayflower.

If you want to apply for membership, know that you will need vital records --birth/marriage/death certificates for each person in your direct lineage. You can also use published genealogies, family documents and valid approved records. If there is a relative that is already a member of the Mayflower Society, you are able to use their lineage documentation to help you verify your lineage.

You have to go through your individual state society for membership. They each have their own governor, officers and historian who will be able to help you with your application. All you have to do is contact your state society for inquiries.

Why is it important to find out if someone in your lineage already belongs to The Mayflower Society? It will save you tons of time doing research and make your application much easier! There are approved publications published by The General Society of Mayflower Descendents. The Mayflower Families Through Five Generations Series, the comprehensive and invaluable "silver books", tracing through 5 generations of descendants of individual Mayflower passengers. There are also books with less complete lineage lines, known as "pink books," that are available for "families in progress."

You can access more information on these publications by visiting The Pilgrim Hall Museum website.

There is another advantage.  The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) Scholarship has established one $5000 annual scholarship to assist deserving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of GSMD members in acquiring a higher education, with a view to their becoming better prepared for life and citizenship. Only one member per family may apply.  Your state society can answer your questions on this subject.