History of Masonic Districts in Connecticut

The foremost responsibility of a Grand Master and his Grand Lodge is to preserve its legitimacy and regularity. Without these, there is a risk of losing recognition by other Grand Lodges. The three major qualifications in order to be recognized as a Grand Lodge are regularity of origin, regularity of practice, and to be autonomous, in that it has sovereign jurisdiction of the lodges under its control.

Across the country, the question of how a Grand Lodge or a Grand Master is to satisfy these qualifications has been resolved by many different methods. Usually, it required an appointment of an officer to assist the Grand Master in maintaining a proper level of uniformity. In Connecticut, this officer is the District Deputy but it was not always so. The evolution of the office of District Deputy, and of districts themselves, is a winding path to where we are now.

A look back at the history of districts, district Deputies, and the growth and reduction is important to realize if and why changes were made, and what future needs to be to maintain regularity through the use of District Deputies.

When districts were first proposed back in the 1823, there were six districts. District 1 consisted of  Hartford County; District 2, New Haven and Middlesex Counties; District 3, New London County, including that portion of Middlesex County extending east of the Connecticut River; District 4, Windham and Tolland Counties; District 5, Litchfield County; and District 6, Fairfield County.

CT-Counties

There are currently eight counties in the state of Connecticut. Four of them were created in 1666 (Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven, New London), during the first consolidation of the colony of Connecticut from a number of smaller colonies. Two counties were created during colonial times (Litchfield 1751, Windham 1726), and two counties, Middlesex and Tolland, were created after American independence (both in 1785).

Litchfield County came from parts of Fairfield County, Hartford County, and New Haven County. Middlesex County came from parts of Hartford County and New London County. Windham County came from parts of Hartford County, and New London County. Tolland County came  from parts of Hartford County, and Windham County.

1795

Resolved, That our Most Worshipful Grand Master be requested to make a visit, either by himself or by some suitable person or persons, which he shall appoint for that purpose, to the several Lodges in this State, acknowledging the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, for the purpose of establishing a uniformity in working.

1809

A proposition from Union Lodge, No. 31, New London, for dividing the Lodges within this jurisdiction into Masonic districts, and to appoint inspectors for the purpose of visiting the several Lodges and introducing uniformity in the mode of working, together with sundry other things therein particularly mentioned, was introduced and read. After some discussion the question was put, whether at this time it would he expedient or necessary to do anything on the subject, and resolved in the negative.

The revised constitution of 1823 included districts, but this system of districts was removed before adoption of the new constitution.

The Morgan Affair set aside further discussion while the very survival of Freemasonry occupied everyone’s labors. When the Morgan Affair finally abated after nearly twenty years, some of the ritual was barely recognizable and a convention was held in Baltimore designed to iron out differences and establish uniformity. It did neither.

From 1840 for the next several years, the Grand Lodge sea-sawed between having Grand Lecturers and not, but citing a need for greater uniformity in the ritual.

1852

“A large number of our sister Grand Lodges have divided their jurisdiction into convenient Masonic Districts, in each of which resides a District Deputy, (appointed by the Grand Master,) whose duty it is to inspect, superintend, and instruct the Lodges in his district. Some of the Grand Lodges hold “ Quarterly

Grand Lodges of Instruction.” On this subject, Grand Master Gedge, of Louisiana, in his very able address, says, “If the Grand Lodge at this session should adopt the proposed amendment to the constitution, which I would beg it very respectfully and strongly to do, establishing Grand Lodges of Instruction, the District Deputies could be required to attend them, and by that means would acquire as complete an uniformity in the work and lectures as it is possible for minds differently constituted to attain.” In this connection I would recommend to the Grand Lodge some action with regard to the Text-books or Charts, to be used by the subordinate Lodges. At the present time there are almost as many different kinds of Monitors used as there are Lodges, and in some cases half a dozen different kinds in the same Lodge.”

But nothing was done in Connecticut.

1877. Recommendation by MW Rowe:

“The experiences of my administration convince me of the great necessity that exists, of exercising a closer watch-care and guardianship over our subordinate Lodges. To this end I earnestly recommend to your consideration the propriety of an amendment to our Constitution, whereby provision shall be made for the appointment of District Deputy Grand Masters. Let this Grand Lodge regulate the number of such appointments, define their duties, and designate their rank, leaving the Grand Master to make the appointments. By this action we may have a careful inspection of every Lodge in the state yearly, and relieve the Grand Master of much of the labor that now of necessity devolves upon him.”

But the proceedings of 1877 comments: “In the matter of District Deputy Grand Masters, Your Committee, in view of the well defined ample powers of the Grand Master to call to his aid whatever assistance may, in his judgment, be necessary for the good of the craft, we do not perceive the necessity of creating new officers and defining their powers, and recommend that no action be taken.”

However, in 1878, an amendment was proposed, “The Grand Master shall appoint District Deputy Grand Masters, one for each county in the State, whose duty it  shall be to officially visit (once at least in each year,) and examine into the  condition of the several Subordinate Lodges, reporting their doings to the Grand Master; and the actual expenses of such officers to be paid by the Grand Lodge.” This motion laid over and was defeated at the next session.

1879 found the following from the Grand Master, “owing to the depressed condition of the treasury I felt it my duty to dispense with the services of District Deputies, or Proxies.”

1880

From the many letters of inquiry, and the numerous questions propounded, I am convinced that some system of instruction to the subordinate Lodges should be provided by the Grand Lodge. We have now neither Grand Lecturer or District Deputy Grand Masters, and officers of subordinates wishing instruction or information on any point, have no recourse but to the Grand Master.

I would recommend that our jurisdiction be divided into a suitable number of Masonic districts, and that the Grand Master annually appoint a District Deputy Grand Master for each Masonic district.

1881 found proxies appointed and the recommendation of deputies to be reviewed. A special committee put forth the following; ” Resolved, That until the Grand Lodge shall otherwise direct, this jurisdiction shall be divided into seven Masonic Districts, whose boundaries shall correspond with the present boundaries of the several counties of this State, except the counties of Tolland and Windham, which shall be comprised in one Masonic District.

Resolved, That each District Deputy Grand Master shall have power, and it shall be his duty, to visit officially every Lodge in his District, at least once in each year, to preside in each Lodge if he shall so elect, to examine its books and records, to ascertain the number of members, and the condition of its finances, and to carefully ascertain the state and condition of the Lodge in every respect; to point out any errors he may discover, and to give all necessary instruction; to prepare, on blanks to be furnished by the Grand Secretary, a statement of the condition of each Lodge in his District, and transmit such statement to the Grand Master, to be by him laid before the Grand Lodge; to prepare a report for the year ending on the first day of December in each year, as to the general condition of Masonry in his District, and his acts therein, with such particulars as he may deem necessary, and transmit such report to the Grand Master,

This resolution passed, and so the number of districts was increased to seven, one less than the number of counties in Connecticut due to the combining of Windham and Tolland Counties. (14,600 members)

1899 Railroad map

The railway system in Connecticut dates from the 1837 when the first rail line was laid between Stonington and Providence. Another line, the Hartford & New Haven Railroad, connecting Hartford and New Haven, was opened in 1839. In 1848 the New York & New Haven Railroad was founded and by 1849 New York City and all of Connecticut were connected by rail. By the American Civil War, Connecticut had the highest density of railroads in the country and in the mid-1870s, the newly merged New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was the most prosperous and dominant commercial enterprise in New England. By 1881, railroads were well established and had no impact on either the Masonic districts or the county system. It would be another 23 years until the districts would be redrawn again.

Connecticut chartered its first railroads in 1832, and by the end of the 19th century about two dozen railroad corporations had built approximately 1,000 miles of main line track within the state. At first, construction took place in the state’s well-traveled north-south river valleys, where grades were flat and stream crossings few. The construction of east-west roads followed. These were more difficult to construct because they passed across the state’s hilly uplands, and so, they were often built in smaller increments.

Even what one would consider outlying areas were covered by railroads. The Housatonic Railroad began service in 1840 and reached the Massachusetts state line by 1842.

The old New Haven to Northhampton line was started in 1846, when the New Haven & Northampton Canal Co. was authorized to build a railroad to replace the canal. This roughly follows what is the current Rt. 10.

The most important of these east-west railroads was the New York & New Haven, completed from New York City to New Haven in 1848. Together with the Hartford & New Haven Railroad from Hartford to Springfield and the Boston & Albany Railroad in Massachusetts, the New York & New Haven created the first all-rail route between New York and Boston, along the path of the Upper Post Road. Other New York-to-Boston routes followed, including a shoreline rail through New London and Providence and the famous Air Line route that ran diagonally across eastern Connecticut from New Haven through Middletown and Willimantic.

Connecticut created a General Railroad Commission in 1853 to monitor the operations of all railroads in the state, which helped to reduce the number of train accidents. By the time of the Civil War, rail travel in Connecticut had become generally safe, convenient, and reliable.

1889 saw the title change from “District Deputy Grand Master” to simply District Deputy. This was merely to simplify the title with the reasoning that a representative of any office does not automatically become a “deputy” of the office. A representative of a Prince does not become a “Deputy Prince.”

In 1903 a Special Committee on Division of Masonic Districts was appointed to oversee the addition of deputies. their report was adopted and additional deputies were appointed for the Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield county districts.

In 1904, there were 110 lodges and 19,047 members in Connecticut. There was growth occurring both in the number of lodges and the membership. The appointment of additional deputies the past year created a contradiction and question whether a “district” could have more than one “deputy.” The was resolved by creating two additional districts by splitting the Litchfield District in half and making the east side of Litchfield County combine with the west side of Hartford County. What became District 2 also included the northern portion of Fairfield County. Districts 2 and 3 also cur significant portions from Fairfield County and New Haven County. Hartford County was divided between relatively western and eastern sections, creating Districts 5 and 6. Old Lyme was taken from New London district and added to District 7, Middlesex County. With this increased number of districts, there wasn’t the need for additional deputies and each district reverted to a single deputy. An association of Actual Past Masters of Hartford County is still in existence as a remnant of earlier times.

1904 District map

1919

Redistricting of Lodges.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to consider a readjustment of District No. 3 (13 Lodges), District No. 4 (18 Lodges), and District No. 5 ,(10 Lodges), and report to the next annual communication of this Grand Lodge.

Later, the incoming Grand Master appointed as such Special Committee the District Deputies of these Districts.

1921

Report of Committee on Redistricting of Lodges.

To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Connecticut, A. F. & A. M.:

The Committee on Redistricting of Lodges beg leave to report that they have had the same under consideration, and recommend that no change be made at this time.

1939 (Membership 128 lodges, 34,555 membership)

Recommendation of outgoing GM Morris Payne:

“In my opinion to carry out a progressive program it will be necessary to enlist the services of an additional Brother in each District, if not two. The status of this additional Brother to the regularly appointed District Deputy has received considerable thought and, based on opinions formed by myself and gained from others, I recommend that the incoming Grand Master appoint in each District an assistant to the District Deputy. This additional Brother to be given an appropriate title and charged with specific duties, and to be endowed with all the rights and privileges now extended to District Deputies.

There can be no question regarding the inequalities that exist in the several Districts as to the territory involved and the number of Lodges in each District. I recommend that a study be made of this situation for the consideration of the Grand Lodge one year hence.”

Resolved: “The Grand Master may in his discretion appoint, in addition to the Custodians of the Work, one Associate Custodian of the Work in each of the nine Masonic Districts, such appointments to expire at the following Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge.

Section 4—Each Associate Custodian of the Work so appointed shall be under the supervision of the District Deputy for the District in which he is appointed, and he shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the District Deputy from time to time, except that nothing herein contained shall be construed to permit such Associate Custodian of the Work to perform the duties required of District Deputies by Chapter XXIV of the Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations.

Report of Committee on Rules and Regulations: “relating to inequality existing in the several Masonic Districts as to the territory involved and the number of Lodges in each District beg leave to report, that it has had the same under consideration and is of the opinion that the recommendation of the Grand Master, that a study be made of this situation should be adopted. The Committee, therefore,  recommends the adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved:  That the incoming Grand Master appoint a committee of as many members as he may deem necessary to make a study of this subject and to report its findings and recommendations to the next Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge.

1940 Recommendation of Outgoing GM Desmond:

“Observation of the operation of this hastily arranged system, however, has convinced me that better service can be rendered to the Lodges by discontinuing the office of Associate Custodian and appointing additional District Deputies. Two men in the same district can do better work if each has independent contact with a few Lodges, than if one assists the other in all the Lodges. If you approve the recommendation of the Committee on District Deputies, I recommend that the office of Associate Custodian be abolished.”

Report of Committee on Masonic Districts

A study of the replies to questions that have been asked discloses a great difference in opinions on the subject in question. There appears to he general agreement that the present District system could be improved in some way. The solution to the problem of how best to improve the situation is not so easy to discover from the replies and suggestions that have been made over the period of about a year. It is very evident, however, that many of our Brethren have given the matter considerable thought over a period of a number of years and have formed very definite ideas of how the situation can be taken care of without creating hardships or entirely abandoning the custom of years’ standing. The principle that Masonry is unchanging does not entirely apply to such things as Masonic Districts and District Deputies. In the case of Districts and Deputies the thought should be whether or not a change is desirable for the best interests of masonry in Connecticut. A study of the data received appears to suggest that a change is necessary and desirable.

If this is so then the solution is, in what way should the present Deputy system be changed and in what manner should the set-up of Districts be changed for the best interests of all concerned?

Perhaps the whole matter can be best understood by stating questions and following the questions with replies based on the information at hand.

1—Should the entire State be re-districted masonically?

Answer: No.

2—Should present Districts be increased or reduced in size?

Answer: Yes. Equalization in the number of Lodges is favored by many. The excessive amount of travel in some Districts is given as a reason for the affirmative answer to this question.

3—What Districts appear to require equalization in number of Lodges or alteration of District boundaries Answer: First, Second, and Third Districts.

4—How can the situation be best adjusted in these Districts ?

Answer: By dividing the Second and Third Districts into about the same number of Lodges each with the boundary between the two Districts running East and West instead of the general North and South boundary line as it now exists. In the First District by dividing the District into about equal parts and adding a Deputy.

5—Should any changes in other Districts be made at this time as regards the shifting of Lodges from one District to another ?

Answer: No. There are apparently some Lodges in the present District set-up that obviously could be better taken care of if they were in another District area. However, it is believed that such changes should be initiated by the Lodges and not by a Grand Lodge Committee.

6—Should Associate Custodians be continued in their present capacity, or should they become assistant District Deputies with the same authority to represent the Grand Master as now vested in the District Deputy ?

Answer: It is believed that the Associate Custodians have done splendid work and should be continued in their present capacity and standing and under the directions of the District Deputies.

7—Should Additional District Deputies be appointed in each District?

Answer: Yes. It is believed that additional Deputies should be appointed in each District.

8—Should these additional Deputies have a different status in masonic rank as compared to the present Deputies?

Answer: No. All Deputies should be of equal rank.

9—If of equal rank how would they function in their respective Districts ?

Answer: Each District should be divided as near equally as possible and a Deputy assigned to each sub-division.

10-U-Would the creation of additional Deputies increase the cost to the Grand Lodge?

Answer: Not necessarily, as each Deputy would only be required to perform about one-half the amount of traveling as he is now expected to do.

11—Should additional Associate Chaplains be appointed in the event Districts are divided?

Answer: Yes.

12—Should additional Associate Custodians of the Work be appointed in the event the Districts are’ divided?

Answer: It is believed that the functions of the Associate Custodian are such that they could very well be conducted by or under the direction of the Deputies. The division of Districts should not mean that long established customs of interchange of visits, ideas, fraternal relations and association should cease. The thought back of establishing two groups of Lodges within a District is for the closer relationship of the Grand Master with subordinate Lodges through the District Deputies.

13—Would the division of Districts into two parts cause the abandonment, of present Masters’, Wardens’ and Secretaries’ associations?

Answer: One of the reasons back of the division of Districts is because in many Districts the distance between Lodges is so great that District meetings are very poorly attended. In such Districts an association in each subdivision would be welcomed. In Districts as now organized where the associations are functioning well and attendance is good, there is no reason why two associations should be organized. District lines will not be altered, except as determined in the case of the Second and Third Districts, and the only difference will be that one part of the District will be known as North, South, East or West, or some such designation. Actually the Districts to all intents and purposes will be the same as at present.

14—What effect will the changing of Districts have on the appointment of Grand Lodge Officers?

Answer: None. The usual rotation can be followed as at present. There will still be nine Districts.

15—Should there be particular objection to the appointment of additional

District Deputies ?

Answer: No. In many Grand jurisdictions the number of Deputies as compared to the Grand Lodge membership is far in excess of the number in Connecticut. By appointing double the number in Connecticut, opportunity is presented to reward twice as many deserving Brothers for their masonic activities.

16—Is closer contact between the Grand Master and his Lodges advisable at this time?

Answer: Yes. Lack of interest in masonry can be attributed to modern day activities. Attendance at Lodges as fallen off in a marked degree since the appearance o the moving pictures, radio and automobile. To revive interest in masonic activities requires as many pairs of hands as can be made available. Additional Grand Lodge representation in the Masonic Districts should be of material assistance to the Grand Master who has many duties to perform during his tenure of office that often prevents his personal attendance at functions of the Lodges.

It is hoped that the foregoing will shed some light on a subject that has been under discussion throughout the State in varying degrees for a long time.

In conclusion, this report would not be complete without some recommendation.

Therefore, it is recommended that: 1—The Second and Third Districts be re-districted as shown on the accompanying map. This requires the changing the boundary line between these two Districts so that North of the boundary the following Lodges would be included:

District No. 3: Lodges Nos. 7, 11, 13, 21, 27, 37, 48, 54, 55, 61, 64, 74,

96, 121—Total 14.

South of the boundary the following Lodges would be included: District No. 2:

Lodges Nos. 12, 17, 40, 42, 47, 76, 78, 82, 83, 123, 135,

136—Total 13.

2—It is further recommended that each District be divided into two parts as indicated on the accompanying map.

3—It is further recommended that two Deputies be appointed for each District. One of them to come from each sub-division of the District.

4—It is further recommended that the work now assigned to Associate Custodians be assigned to the District Deputies if two Deputies are appointed in each District.

5—It is further recommended that an Associate Grand Chaplain be appointed for each sub-division of each District.

Sincerely and fraternally,

MORRIS B. PAYNE,

Past Grand Master

Committee on Rules and Regulations (6)

The Committee on Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations, to whom was referred the report of M. W. Brother Payne regarding proposed changes in, and division of the present Masonic Districts, and the appointment of additional District Deputies, begs leave to report as follows:

The Committee has conferred with present and past District Deputies from each of the Districts in an endeavor to ascertain the views of the Lodges regarding the subject matter of this Report.

There seems to be a unanimous opinion, except in the Second District, against the subdivision of Districts, and in all of them a unanimous opposition to the transfer of any Lodge from its present District to another, or to any plan which might now or hereafter change the present District boundaries, including those of the Second and Third Districts. Therefore, the Committee recommends that no change be now made in any District boundaries, and that no District be subdivided and no Lodge transferred to another District. However, the majority of those interviewed believed that assistance of some kind is required by the District Deputy, this being particularly true in the First, Fourth, and Sixth Districts because of the large number of Lodges and in the Second and Third Districts because of the extent of their territory. There is also the feeling that a better system of assistance to the Deputies can be found than the scheme of Associate Custodians of the Work, which was provided for one year ago.

The Committee has given consideration to the passage of legislation which would have permitted in the discretion of the Grand Master the appointment of additional District Deputies. However, we find a constitutional provision in Article 7 which provides that a District Deputy shall be appointed over each District.

While a constitutional amendment was introduced at the last Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge and is now lying on the table for action, such amendment provides only for a change in the number of the Lodges in the District and not for a change in the number of Deputies.

The Committee recommends that the proposed constitutional amendment be rejected and is having introduced a new amendment to cover the Deputy situation, which will have to lie over until the next Annual Communication.

The Committee further recommends that the present system of the Associate Custodian be continued for the ensuing year, that the matter of additional deputies be discussed in the various constituent Lodges and that the entire matter be left in the hands of this Committee for further study and action after this Grand Lodge has passed on the newly proposed constitutional amendment.

The motion offered a year ago to change the Constitution and recorded on Page 124 of the 1939 Proceedings, was taken from the table and rejected. In its stead the following was offered by Wor. Starr L. Beckwith-Ewell, to lie over until the next Annual Communication and, as such, was accepted.

Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended to read as follows:

Article 7. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed.

1941

Committee on Rules and Regulations (5)

The Committee on Rules and Regulations to whom was referred the proposed constitutional amendment relating to District Deputies beg leave to report that in the opinion of the Committee this is a matter that should be decided by the Grand Lodge and the Committee submits it to the members thereof without  recommendation either for or against its passage.

The Report was accepted and discussion of the amendment resumed. An amendment proposed by Wor. Herbert L. Emanuelson of Wooster Lodge, No. 79, was defeated and then the original amendment:

Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended to read as follows:

Article 7. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed, was rejected.

1949

The following Resolution was presented by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond. Being an amendment to the Constitution, it was received and ordered to lie over until the next Annual Communication.

Resolved, that Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended so that it shall read as follows:

The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed but no District shall comprise less than ten Lodges.

1950 (131 lodges, 43,396 members)

AMENDMENT, GRAND LODGE CONSTITUTION

The following resolution, which was presented to this Grand Lodge at its One hundred and Sixty-first Annual Communication and ordered to lie over until the next Annual Communication, was brought before the Grand Lodge by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond, who moved its adoption:

Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution, be amended so that it shall read as follows:

The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed but no District shall comprise less than ten Lodges.

Adopted.

1983 (133 lodges, 28,936)

Synopsis of Changes from Tentative Revision of 1982

2. Sect. 2600 was left intact, except that the specific 5-year timetable for redistricting was omitted, leaving it up to the Grand Lodge and the Jurisprudence Committee as to when such redistricting would be necessary to keep the nine districts equal in size.

1987

Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master Dennis Elkins

Having spent several years in the Grand Lodge line, it has become increasingly apparent that a one year term of office does not allow ample time to effectively implement programming. Additionally, our present process of selecting qualified Brothers by district suffers from severe problems of imbalance. Three of our  districts and the sub-districts therein are considerably larger, more than twice as big, than four other districts. I therefore recommend that a special committee be appointed to consider redistricting the state into six districts and a two year system be developed based on these six districts. It is my opinion that this would provide a truly competitive system and insure solid programming. In addition, by properly developing such a system, highly qualified men would have the opportunity and desire to become further involved in our great fraternity.

1993 (125 lodges, 21,977 membership)

To permit a District to comprise of less than nine lodges, if it becomes necessary, be it resolved that the Constitution, Article VII, Jurisdiction To Be Divided Into Districts, be amended to change “no District shall comprise of less than nine lodges” to “no District shall comprise of less than eight lodges.” Article VII will then read:

The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into nine districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed, but no district shall be comprised of less than eight lodges.

It was moved and voted affirmatively that this report of the Committee on Rules, Regulations and Jurisprudence be accepted to lay over to the next Regular Communication.

1994

The subject of unbalance within the Masonic Districts in Connecticut, has arisen frequently.

A new Special Committee was formed this year, the Masonic District Realignment Evaluation Committee, to review this subject in detail. The committee is headed by Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Norman L. Getchell. Their charge is to review the unbalance and to recommend changes and to prepare recommendations affecting Grand Lodge Officers, Grand Lodge Committees, the concerns o f the lodges effected and all aspects that would develop from their recommendations. The committee has a representative from each of the present nine districts. Because of the scope of this task, our incoming Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master have agreed to continue this special committee for at least the next two years to provide ample time to reach a sound set of  recommendations.

1995

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON MASONIC DISTRICT REALIGNMENT EVALUATION REVIEW

Your committee has met regularly to follow the guidelines as furnished to us in the committee’s “CHARTER OF WORK’1. Our discussions have led to many areas of thought and ideas. These areas have excited our thought process and in so doing have given us all a broader understanding of the many differences which exist across our Grand Jurisdiction. Committee members have participated in discussions and presentations at lodge meetings, Blue Lodge Councils, and with many brothers individually. In addition, many brothers at all levels have written proposals and ideas for our consideration. Each written presentation has been reviewed by this committee and on several occasions the proposal writer has been in attendance to present and discuss his thoughts and reasons for making his proposal.

During the Semi-Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge, held in October of 1995, a survey form was handed out to those in attendance for input to this committee. Of the approximate 380 members present the committee received about 190 responses. Most of the responses were of a positive nature and the committee was most pleased and encouraged by those who responded. As a group, a disappointment was felt that more brothers did not respond to make the survey more representative of those in attendance.

Our recommendations to Grand Lodge at the October 1996 Semi-Annual Communication will be in part as follows:

Realign the Districts from nine to six.

Realign the Districts to have equity in the number of lodges per District,

(approximately twenty).

By having an equal number of lodges per district, a more even number of voting members is created at Grand Lodge sessions.

Population by district would create a lack of equity in some districts.

The committees next order of business will cover the Grand Lodge Line Structure.

The committee agrees to the method of selecting the Grand Lodge Officer by each district permanent members as now utilized by the Grand Lodge officers. The committee has scheduled our final report to be presented at the Semi-Annual

Communication in October, 1996, and to submit for the Grand Lodge consideration at the Annual Communication in April, 1997.

1996

Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Norman L. Getchell, Chairman of the Realignment Committee to report on the proposal which they will present at the

Annual Grand Lodge Communication in April.

Most Worshipful Brother Getchell presented the following points of Realignment:

1. Change the breakdown of the State from nine to six districts; each District to have approximately the same number o f lodges.

2. That the Progressive Grand Lodge Line be composed of four elected Officers: Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Senior Warden, and Grand Junior Warden.

3. That the line will be completed with two appointed Officers; the Grand Senior and Junior Deacons. The Grand Deacons will represent the two districts not having elected Grand Lodge Officers.

4. Each District to have three District Deputies and three Associate Grand Marshals or Grand Chaplains.

5. That a meeting be called by the Grand Lodge Officer in each District at which the permanent members of Grand Lodge, and the Masters and Wardens of each lodge in the District may make recommendations for the Progressive Line and the position o f District Deputy.

6. That this Realignment and evaluation be performed in five years (the next in 2002) and every ten years thereafter.

1996

MASONIC DISTRICT REALIGNMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE

The Most Worshipful Grand Master called upon Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Brother Norman L. Getchell for the report of the Masonic District Realignment Review Committee. He reminded the Craft in attendance that the motion to be presented at the conclusion of the report is a constitutional change that must lay over until the Semi Annual Communication in October of this year, at which time a final vote will be taken on the motion.

My brothers, you have the report of the Masonic District Realignment Review Committee in your packet. It is found in Section KK. The differences between what we presented to you in October and today are so listed on page seventeen and those corrections which include the mergers of Lodges and so forth that have happened since that date, we hope that we got everything in. I see no reason to read this report. The first recommendation is a constitutional change requiring a change from nine to six districts. The other recommendations are pretty much recommendations and suggestions. Is there any discussion? I present this report and ask that it be accepted for discussion.

Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Richard Hodgson moved to amend the beginning language under recommendation number Five of the re-districting proposal which would clearly define that “The Grand Lodge Officer representing the District who has just lost representation should request each permanent Grand Lodge Member and Worshipful Master or Senior and Junior Warden of said District Lodges, for a recommendation for appointments to the Grand Lodge progressive line and District Deputy.”

The Most Worshipful Grand Master clarified the wording of the amendment by stating: “ what Brother Hodgson wants to add in here as wording is simply to make it clear that it’s a District that’s losing a Grand Lodge Officer. It would be then my District that is replacing me and naming someone else into the Grand Lodge. So we’re just adding a couple words to clarify that point. The motion to amend was seconded and passed.

BROTHER FRED LORENSON: Worshipful Master, Fred Lorenson from Shepherd Salem No. 78. I would like to speak in opposition to this redistricting. I think the idea of bringing that down to six, you’re going to be destroying the Districts which have for many, many years worked within themselves to accomplish certain things all the way through. You are going to destroy what has happened over the years.

Secondly, when I spoke a little bit in opposition to this at our Semi-Annual session, I suggested that the Committee look into the possibility of leaving the Districts the way they are; however, changing the set-up of our Grand Lodge by changing some of our Constitutional avenues so that we do not have a progressive line as such but limit that portion of it. I had written to the committee on it and I would like to know if there was any discussion or what might have happened relative to that letter.

BROTHER GETCHELL: Most Worshipful Brother Lorenson, we received your report. We reviewed your report. We did not feel that in this present context that we could do it in time to maintain our schedule. And we also felt we had a number of problems. One we thought that politics would come into it. That was one of our highest priorities as not to allow politics to arise in our Grand Lodge and to keep a balance across the state. That’s what we tried to do is maintain a balance so that all the Districts would have equal representation which they do not now. So those were our main criteria, and we — we certainly reviewed your report and that was pretty much the Committee’s unanimous reasoning.

BROTHER LORENSON: I would entertain the opportunity before our next session to relay some of this to the other members within the state so that their decision might also be taken into account relative to the election portion as well as – 1 just feel changing the Districts will spoil much of the ability of the District to accomplish certain things. Thank you very much.

BROTHER GETCHELL: One point on that, my brothers, when I went to the Ninth District to make this presentation, one of their problems was because they are the highest attended Blue Lodge Council in our Grand Jurisdiction, the smallest and the largest attendance. One of their problems was that they would not have room to put all the brothers to have a meal. There was no place large enough in the Ninth District to put more brothers in. They were having 125 approximately brothers in attending their meeting. I think that’s a wonderful problem to have, to have to add on several Lodges to bring in more brothers and find a place to accommodate them. That’s a positive thing, one of the true positive things we had out of our discussions. That really is a hard problem to solve. There are so many easy ways to take care of such situations.

BROTHER DAVID POGG: Worshipful Master, David Pogg, Hartford 88. I notice one problem that I can see right off the bat. Hartford 88 would be scheduled to meet in the proposed Third Masonic District. The problem is we now meet in East Hartford which would be the new proposed Sixth Masonic District. I was just wondering why we have not been moved over into the Sixth and if there’s a problem with this, at this time, I would like to make a motion that 88 remain in the Sixth District where it currently meets with the other Lodges in the new proposed Sixth District that we do most of our visitations and exchange of the Craft work with.

Right Worshipful Brother Carl Ek referred to the Article VII, No. 5, which reads, “That the following procedure be a guideline for selecting.” He moved that the line be amended to read, “That the following be the procedure for selecting” rather than a guideline. An amendment was made, seconded and passed.

An amendment was offered to delay the decision on re-districting until the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut in April, 1998. The motion was made, seconded and defeated. Action will be taken in October 1997 as originally scheduled.

Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Getchell closed his remarks by stating: “My brothers, we have made available the members o f the Committee to attend any o f your meetings, Blue Lodge Councils, Lodge, Fellowcraft Clubs, whatever you want to call it or just a gathering of Brothers. We cannot say how many, whether it’s large or small, we will come and make the presentation, and discuss these things with you, and get your input. We feel that most of the Brothers in this Grand Jurisdiction really don’t care. We did a survey one year ago last October. There were three hundred and eighty Brothers in attendance. One hundred and eighty Brothers filled out the survey. We handed them out and asked them to be turned back in or mailed. Fifty percent of the Brothers responded. Now what happened to the other fifty percent of the Brothers? It makes it very difficult to work on this type of thing when the Brothers do not participate by being a part of the process. So we ask you, please come out and give us your assistance. Thank you very much.”

1997 (112 lodges, 20,560)

Resuming business, the Grand Master called on Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Brother Norman L. Getchell for a report on the work of the Masonic District Realignment Evaluation Review Committee. There was a thorough discussion o f the project with several Brothers speaking at length.

A vote was taken on redistricting and was defeated.

2005

Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master George Greytak

1. That the Grand Lodge continue to look into the feasibility of redistricting. As Lodges continue to consolidate, and districts become smaller, our Grand Lodge may be better served with fewer districts.

2. That a special committee be formed to explore alternatives to the current 9-year Grand Lodge Line progression. If redistricting is indeed accepted, the tradition of having 9 districts, with 1 Grand Lodge Officer from each district, becomes a moot point.

2006 (95 lodges, 14,543 membership)

Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master Charles B. Fowler, Jr.

1. That the committee on Masonic Districts which was set up to look into the feasibility of redistricting be continued. As Lodges continue to consolidate, and districts become smaller, our Grand Lodge may be better served with fewer districts. Further, that the same committee continue to explore alternatives to the current 9-year Grand Lodge Line progression and our means of selection of Grand Lodge officers.

2007

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON MASONIC DISTRICTS

To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Connecticut:

The committee charges as given to the committee by the Grand Master read in part:

Review the present District structure and develop a plan for equalizing the number of Lodges assigned to each District.

Determine if retaining nine Districts is desirable or if a reduction should be considered, and if so, to what extent.

Review the present method of selecting Grand Line Officers who automatically progress to the office of Grand Master to determine if it best serves the Grand Lodge or if there is a better way. If a reduction in the number of Districts is recommended, develop a plan for the succession of the extant Grand Lodge Officers.

The Committee started meeting in October of 2006 and spent the first few meetings getting organized. Members were recruited from all nine districts. Several proposals have been presented by various members of the committee resulting in discussion concerning what’s best for the State of Connecticut.

At present the members of the committee have been tasked to discuss the concerns/problems with the members of their respective districts via Blue Lodge Council meetings. The task assigned to the committee is one that is very complex and will take cooperation from all Masons. The Committee will return to the Blue Lodge Councils with further proposals as they develop.

R.W. Donald W. Dean, ChairmanR.W. Michael B. Dodge

R.W. Arthur H. CarlstromW.B. Carl J. Mossberg

R.W. Thomas M. Maxwell IIM.W. Kenneth B Hawkins Sr.

W.B. Frank DlugoleskiW.B. John H. Spencer

R.W. James T. McWain

A second motion to change Section 2400 to eliminate the number of Lodges assigned to District Deputies, leaving the matter to the discretion of the Grand Master, was ADOPTED.

2008 (93 lodges, 13,926)

Grand Master Stika asked for a consensus o f the Craft on the matter of Redistricting. By an overwhelming majority, the voting members present indicated that we should not, at this time, give further consideration to the issue of redistricting.

2015

We now find ourselves with that history; a history of lack of change. What are we as Masons if we do not thrive on change? Our whole being as Freemasons are about the change we endeavor in ourselves, a change for good. Why can we not look for change in our districts? We certainly will not be relocating lodges just as we would not re moving our  own geographical residences simply because we have changed as individuals.

Districts were for the purpose of supervision by a representative, proxy, or deputy of a Grand Master. A Grand Master’s first responsibility is to see his jurisdiction is kept “regular.” That means its members can be recognized by other jurisdictions as “regular” and therefore “accepted.” We are bound by that duty to have a Volume of Sacred Law on our altars, to not admit women, to refuse discussion of religion and politics, and thus be kind and Masonic to each other. To do otherwise will incur the displeasure of other jurisdictions and would ultimately make us alone in the world. We can only claim that we have attained the sublime degree of Master Mason if we can prove ourselves one, and travel and work as one.

Thus, we find districts are meant as an administrative function of the Grand Master. My “redistricting” did not change any of the associations lodges had enjoyed with regard to relations between themselves. It did not affect Blue Lodge Councils and was not intended to. It was not to change a family of lodges, just the oversight of them. My redistricting took into account a variety of factors. I wanted the Deputy to be able to be able to attend his own lodge, not have to travel out of his way, and not have lodges that met the same night. This took a lot of work and organizing, and it was not meant to be static or a “new” permanent grouping of lodges.

The GPS question assumed the choice of not going back to the nine district system would otherwise cement into new districts, but as I continually tried to emphasize, the districts were meant to be redrawn almost every year, as deputies changed.

I saw that with the old system, boundaries were created that not only kept brothers from visiting throughout the state, but also allowed practices to develop that were not beneficial to the Craft. One entire district did not perform the entire tragedy of the Master Mason degree at every degree but only perhaps once a year. This had become their district tradition. Grand Lodge officers would progress through the line carrying with them only the knowledge of their districts, and would likewise “protect” their district from criticism or oversight.

Certainly having a brother from another area come and supervise might be unnerving for some, but most deputies and lodges welcomed the “new” brothers. Masonry was on the road to becoming “Connecticut Freemasonry” not just “District X Freemasonry.” We are a jurisdiction not just a district. We should not let our identity stop at a district line but embrace the entire state.

Connecticut’s districts developed from county lines. As membership grew lines were redrawn accordingly. District equality has always been a problem and Grand Masters and committees have recognized this and tried to implement solutions. The inequality has produced an inordinate imbalance between districts. If we are to continue the tradition of maintaining the districts, we will find that imbalance exaggerated.

Connecticut’s  Masonic leaders of  1881, 1904, and 1950 endeavored to make corrections as Masonic membership grew. The membership approved of their changes. Since the height of membership in 1958, the decline has also brought about calls for changes to Masonic districts, in 1987, 1993, 1996, 2005, 2006, and 2007. We have failed to adapt to the realities we face.

We honor the dead for giving us the world we inherited. However, we must recognized we are doomed if we allow the dead to govern us.

_____________________________________

THE DISTRICT DEPUTY SYSTEM IN CONNECTICUT

By M. W. Earle K. Haling, Grand Secretary

From the early history of this Grand Lodge, as recorded in its Proceedings, there have been numerous attempts to knit the Lodges to each other and to the Grand Lodge by promoting uniformity in the ritual and closer contact with the Grand Master or his representatives.

Before the formation of the Grand Lodge and throughout its recorded history the matter of “uniformity in the work” was considered of paramount importance and many and varied are the methods that were at different periods proposed or adopted. At the first Convention of Delegates, representing twelve Lodges, held in New Haven on April 29, 1783, it was voted “that a person be appointed to visit each of the Lodges in this State, in order that there may be uniformity in the mode of working among the brethren; and that Brother Jonathan Heart be appointed for that purpose”. Brother Heart’s expenses and a compensation to be paid by the respective Lodges.

As early as October 1795, after the formation of the Grand Lodge, the desire of the Lodges for greater uniformity in their work is shown by the submission of the following resolution:

“Resolved, That our Most Worshipful Grand Master be requested to make a visit, either by himself or by some suitable person or persons, which he shall appoint for that purpose, to the several Lodges in this State, acknowledging the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, for the purpose of establishing a uniformity in working, and that the expense be defrayed from the funds of this Lodge.”

In October 1796, a Committee was appointed to further this object.

The first proposal for the division of the jurisdiction into Districts and the appointment of Inspectors, said to have come from Union Lodge No. 31 of New London, is recorded in May 1809—page 217 but after discussion was rejected.

Nothing further along these lines is reported until May 1818, page 293, when a resolution was adopted authorizing Brother Jeremy L. Cross as Grand Lecturer, to visit and instruct the Lodges in this jurisdiction at their expense, the fee being 84.00 per day but not to exceed $10.00 plus Brother Cross’ expenses. A year later a committee was given power to liquefy his accounts by drawing on the Grand Treasurer.

The first adoption of the Grand Lecturer as a Grand Lodge Officer was made in May 1821 and the Grand Master immediately appointed Brother Jeremy L. Cross as Grand Lecturer. At the same session Brother Cross’ “Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor” was recommended for use as a text book in all Lodges.

Brother Cross is listed as Grand Lecturer in the records of each Grand Lodge Annual from 1821 thru 1823. At this latter session a proposed revision of the Grand Lodge Constitution was presented (1823—pages 340, 341) wherein provision was made for six Masonic Districts over each of which the Grand Master should appoint a District Deputy Grand Master with duties corresponding largely to those of our present District Deputies. No provision was made for a Grand Lecturer and Brother Cross’ name fails to appear in subsequent Proceedings. When the new Constitution was brought up for adoption in May 1824 all provisions relating to Masonic Districts and District Deputy Grand Masters were stricken out and rejected and the Constitution, thus amended, laid over until May 1825 when it was adopted. Soon after this action the Morgan excitement so disturbed our Lodges as to cause them to drop the idea of uniformity to be attained by Grand Lodge supervision and devote all their energies to maintaining their own existence.

The subject of uniformity is not mentioned again for fifteen years. In 1840 and again in 1841, the Lodges, through lack of supervision, apparently became more divergent in their ritual work. The first four Grand Lodge officers were authorized to visit and instruct any subordinate Lodge and ascertain if it were conforming to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Grand Lodge. In 1842, the excitement having somewhat subsided, a resolution authorizing the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Lecturer was read and rejected. The next year the Committee on Foreign Correspondence (1843— page 561) disparages the appointment of a Grand Lecturer. To quote from this report:

“ ‘A burnt child dreads the fire,’ is an old and valued adage, and when we recollect that paid and appointed Grand Lecturers first published and circulated Masonic charts, monitors, and other works, which subsequently proved to be injurious to our Order—that several paid Grand Lecturers became renouncing Masons, and among the first and foremost to slander and abuse many of the faithful and beloved members and pillars of the craft, who in the dark days of anti-Masonic adversity adhered to their obligations and their Masonic faith—ought we not to fear that like causes may again produce like effects and that paid Grand Lecturers may be hereafter what paid Grand Lecturers heretofore proved themselves to be? Your Committee sincerely believe that the principles, usages and customs, and the work in the several degrees of ancient craft Masonry, can be most safely and beneficially communicated (without fee or reward) by instructive tongues to attentive ears, and thus lodged in faithful breasts, in like manner be handed down to the latest Masonic posterity.”

And, again in 1844, Grand Master Henry Peck expresses the opinion that it is “inexpedient to lend the sanction of this Grand Lodge to the appointment of Grand Lecturers”. This would indicate that the previous operation under a Grand Lecturer was not altogether satisfactory.

The desire for uniformity still persisted and in 1847 it was voted “that the Grand Lodge Officers be requested to exhibit the Work and Lectures of the three degrees before the Grand Lodge during the present communication”. Later in the session, perhaps due to a lack of confidence in the ritualistic ability of the Grand Lodge Officers, this vote was rescinded and a resolution adopted that provided for a Special Communication to be held in Middletown on October 12 and 13, 1847, for the purpose of mutual instruction in the lectures and work. At this Special Communication the three degrees were exemplified by brethren of St. John’s Lodge No. 4 following which, by a resolution adopted, the work as exhibited by St. John’s Lodge No. 4 was approved by this Grand Lodge and “hereby is recommended to the subordinate Lodges under this jurisdiction”.

In 1852 Grand Master Sanford called attention to the manner in which some jurisdictions were divided into Districts, with District Deputies appointed by the Grand Master, as a means of encouraging more uniform work and suggested that a committee of one from each County be appointed, to consider and report a plan of action to best insure a uniform mode of work. The Deputy Grand Master expressed the opinion that this could only be done by the appointment of a Grand Lecturer with a suitable number of assistants. These suggestions were referred to a committee which recommended that a Special Communication be called to hear and act on their demonstrated system of work. Such a Special Communication was called in the Hall of St. John’s Lodge No. 3, Bridgeport on March 22, 1853, when the Grand Lodge Officers exemplified all three degrees including proper opening and closing ceremonies, the manner of balloting, and every portion of the work. The ritual as exemplified was adopted by the Grand Lodge as its recognized work.

The following year Grand Master David Clark reported “great improvement” in the work of most Lodges. That all of them were not following the “adopted work” is shown by the necessity for the adoption of a resolution affirming “that it is the imperative duty of all Lodges * * * * to conform to all rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge in relation to work”.

During the next decade the Lodges were subject to inspection by the first four Grand Officers but that the improvement was not permanent is shown from the following from Grand Master Ensign’s Address a t the 1862 Annual Communication. “How unpleasant it is * * * * to find ourselves among brethren at our own door, as it were, and there listen to words almost unknown * * * *. You can scarcely realize that you are among men claiming to belong to an Institution called universal. * * * * I have recently heard (a Veteran Mason) remark that he could hardly recognize the work in some of our Lodges.”

M. W. Brother Ensign appointed a Committee on Uniformity of Work which submitted a lengthy report at the May 1863 Annual in which it reviewed the conditions described by Past Grand Master Ensign, deplored the fact that few Lodges gave, or even knew, the Lectures; and recommended the adoption of a standard of Masonic Work and the appointment of a Grand Lecturer with power to appoint such Deputy Grand Lecturers as he deemed necessary, their traveling expenses plus $2.00 per day to be paid by the Lodge receiving instruction from them. The Report with its recommendation was adopted and Grand Master Alvan P. Hyde, appointed Chauncey M. Hatch of Bridgeport and installed him as Grand Lecturer. Thus after a period of forty years the Office of Grand Lecturer again appears on the Grand Lodge roster.

Worshipful Brother Hatch held the office by consecutive annual appointments for the next eleven years and made a Report a t each Annual Communication. The first year he appointed only one Deputy Grand Lecturer, Worshipful Brother E. H. Judd of Waterbury, to assist him. From 1864 through 1866 he seems to have performed his duties unassisted.

At the Annual Communication 1867, he was relieved of the power to appoint Deputy Grand Lecturers, the authority being voted to the Grand Master, and the number to be appointed being increased to eight, one for each County, with the added proviso that each Lodge should be visited at least once in each year.

In 1871 the re was added a provision that each Lodge should pay the Grand Lecturer or his Deputy “the sum of not less than five dollars”. This method of remuneration was not found satisfactory and was repealed in 1872. Grand Master Lockwood (1873—page 244) suggested that a moderate annual salary be paid the Grand Lecturer by the Grand Lodge. A Report was presented, setting the annual salary at $1800.00, which was laid on the table and seems to have remained there as no further action is reported. The next year (1874), by resolution adopted, the Grand Master was “instructed not to make any appointment to the office of Grand Lecturer until directed by vote of the Grand Lodge,” so that for the next few years the only visitations were those made by the Grand Master himself.

In 1877 Grand Master Rowe stated that he was convinced that a great necessity existed for “exercising a closer watch-care and guardianship over our subordinate Lodges” and recommended the appointment of District Deputy Grand Masters and the definition of their duties and rank. The Jurisprudence Committee, believing that the Grand Master had ample powers “ to call to his aid whatever assistance may be necessary” rejected the recommendation. Grand Master Rowe, re-elected, exercised his prerogative by calling to his aid a proxy for each County. They reported at the 1878 Communication.

We note that the Masonic Home was first brought to the attention of the Lodges by these proxies, a custom which continued to the present writing. M. W. Brother Rowe again brought up the matter of instruction for the Lodges, recommending that both a Grand Lecturer and District Deputy Grand Masters be appointed (1878—pages 24, 25). The Special Committee to which his recommendation was referred submitted an amendment to the Constitution which would have fully carried out the Grand Master’s desires. This amendment, held over until the 1879 Annual, was defeated. Grand Masters Phelps (1878) and Bullock (1879) did not exercise the prerogative of appointing proxies.

However, at the Annual Communication January 21, 1880, R. W. John H. Barlow, Deputy Grand Master, presiding as Grand Master again, brought up the matter and made the recommendation that our jurisdiction be divided into a suitable number of Masonic Districts, and that the Grand Master annually appoint a District Deputy Grand Master for each Masonic District so that the Officers of the subordinate Lodges might more readily obtain Masonic instruction and information (1880—page 20). The Committee on Address referred this recommendation to a Special Committee. Later, on the same day, Brother Waugh of the Committee verbally reported that because of the limited time it would be impossible to make a satisfactory report a t the present session and asked that the Committee be continued with liberty to make said report at the next Annual Communication, which permission was granted. The following resolution “to meet the requirement of the subject for the coming year” was adopted:

“Resolved, That the Grand Master be recommended to appoint such a number of Proxies for the coming year as may seem to him required, and that the actual expenses incurred by said Proxies, in the discharge of their duties, be paid by this Grand Lodge.” (1880—page 38)

Upon being elected Grand Master, M. W. Brother Barlow appointed proxies as shown in the accompanying table. None was appointed for Middlesex County as he himself visited, with but two exceptions, all the Lodges in that County (1881—page 13).

In his Address at the Annual Communication on January 19, 1881, he repeated the recommendation made the year before. The Committee appointed at the last Annual Communication brought in a Report proposing amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws which would effectuate the establishment of a District Deputy System by dividing the jurisdiction into seven Masonic Districts, which boundaries corresponded with the boundaries of the several Counties of the State except that the Counties of Tolland and Windham together comprised one of the Districts, and enumerated the powers and duties of the District Deputy Grand Masters. (1881—page 37).

The Report was accepted and laid over until the next Annual Communication.

Again a resolution recommending that the Grand Master appoint proxies for the coming year was adopted and M. W. Brother Barlow appointed proxies this year for all of the seven proposed Districts.

In his Address to the Grand Lodge at the Annual Communication January 18, 1882, Grand Master Barlow expressed the opinion that the majority of the Lodges did not need to be visited every year and that the District Deputy Grand Masters would need to visit only such Lodges in their respective Districts as the Grand Master should select, (1882—page 17). On the afternoon of the 18th, Brother Waugh for the Committee, brought up his Report which was laid over and made the special order of business for the evening Session (1882—-page 38). At this evening Session the Report was again taken up, and, after considerable discussion, was adopted (1882—pages 42, 43). M. W. James McCormick was elected Grand Master and was the first to appoint District Deputy Grand Masters.

The appointments were continued by his successors under this title until January 17, 1889, when the following change in the Constitution laid over from 1888, was adopted: “To strike out the words, wherever they occur, of ‘District Deputy Grand Masters’ and insert in lieu thereof the words ‘District Deputies.’ ” (1889—page 80).

The number of Districts remained at seven for twenty-two years, or until 1904. In 1903 Grand Master Arthur C. Wheeler called attention to the disproportion between the Districts, one District having only ten Lodges and another twenty-five, and recommended that an additional Deputy be appointed for Hartford County, and for New Haven County (1903—page 36). The Special Committee to which this was referred, also added another Deputy for Fairfield County and incorporated a resolution providing that the subject of dividing the jurisdiction into suitable Masonic Districts be referred to a “Committee of Three” to report at the next Annual. (1903—page 69). Ten District Deputies were appointed for 1903, there being two appointed in each of the three named Counties, with one, as heretofore, in each of the others. The appointed “Committee of Three” consisted of Past Grand Masters Arthur C. Wheeler, Henry O. Warner and F ran k W. Havens. On January 21, 1904, a t the 116th Annual Communication, it presented a Report which was adopted, dividing the 110 Lodges in the jurisdiction into nine Masonic Districts.

This number of Districts has remained constant since that date although several attempts have been made to redistrict, particularly in 1919, 1920 and in 1988. In the latter year Grand Master Morris B. Payne appointed Deputy Custodians in each District to assist and cooperate with the Deputies. This procedure was continued by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond by authorization of the Grand Lodge, (1939—page 115), and Grand Master Hanmer appointed M. W. Brother Payne a “ Special Committee on Masonic Districts”. The Committee reported and made recommendations for redistricting in February 1940, (1940—pages 124, 125), which were rejected by adoption of the Report of the Committee on Rules and Regulations, (1940—pages 148, 149). The office of Associate Custodian was continued for another year when it was abolished. (1941—page 104).

Up until 1921 District Deputies were members of the Grand Lodge only during their term of office and their title was “Worshipful”. In 1920 Grand Master Wallace S. Moyle suggested that District Deputies be made permanent members of the Grand Lodge. The Committee on Jurisprudence to which the suggestion was referred presented the following resolution which was adopted:

“Resolved, That the Committee on Revision of Grand Lodge Regulations be instructed to incorporate in the revision of the Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations, a regulation creating District Deputies permanent members of the Grand Lodge with the title of Right Worshipful.” (1920— page 110).

With the adoption of the Revision Committee’s report in February 1921, all the then Past and P resent District Deputies became permanent members with the title “Right Worshipful” and since then all District Deputies have been entitled to these privileges.

 

The foremost responsibility of a Grand Master and his Grand Lodge is to preserve its legitimacy and regularity. Without these, there is a risk of losing recognition by other Grand Lodges. The three major qualifications in order to be recognized as a Grand Lodge are regularity of origin, regularity of practice, and to be autonomous, in that it has sovereign jurisdiction of the lodges under its control.
Across the country, the question of how a Grand Lodge or a Grand Master is to satisfy these qualifications has been resolved by many different methods. Usually, it required an appointment of an officer to assist the Grand Master in maintaining a proper level of uniformity. In Connecticut, this officer is the District Deputy but it was not always so. The evolution of the office of District Deputy, and of districts themselves, is a winding path to where we are now.
A look back at the history of districts, district Deputies, and the growth and reduction is important to realize if and why changes were made, and what future needs to be to maintain regularity through the use of District Deputies. When districts were first proposed back in the 1823, there were six districts. District 1 consisted of  Hartford County; District 2, New Haven and Middlesex Counties; District 3, New London County, including that portion of Middlesex County extending east of the Connecticut River; District 4, Windham and Tolland Counties; District 5, Litchfield County; and District 6, Fairfield County.
There are currently eight counties in the state of Connecticut. Four of them were created in 1666 (Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven, New London), during the first consolidation of the colony of Connecticut from a number of smaller colonies. Two counties were created during colonial times (Litchfield 1751, Windham 1726), and two counties, Middlesex and Tolland, were created after American independence (both in 1785).
Litchfield County came from parts of Fairfield County, Hartford County, and New Haven County. Middlesex County came from parts of Hartford County and New London County. Windham County came from parts of Hartford County, and New London County. Tolland County came  from parts of Hartford County, and Windham County.
1795Resolved, That our Most Worshipful Grand Master be requested to make a visit, either by himself or by some suitable person or persons, which he shall appoint for that purpose, to the several Lodges in this State, acknowledging the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, for the purpose of establishing a uniformity in working.
1809A proposition from Union Lodge, No. 31, New London, for dividing the Lodges within this jurisdiction into Masonic districts, and to appoint inspectors for the purpose of visiting the several Lodges and introducing uniformity in the mode of working, together with sundry other things therein particularly mentioned, was introduced and read. After some discussion the question was put, whether at this time it would he expedient or necessary to do anything on the subject, and resolved in the negative.
The revised constitution of 1823 included districts, but this system of districts was removed before adoption of the new constitution.
The Morgan Affair set aside further discussion while the very survival of Freemasonry occupied everyone’s labors. When the Morgan Affair finally abated after nearly twenty years, some of the ritual was barely recognizable and a convention was held in Baltimore designed to iron out differences and establish uniformity. It did neither.
From 1840 for the next several years, the Grand Lodge sea-sawed between having Grand Lecturers and not, but citing a need for greater uniformity in the ritual.
1852″A large number of our sister Grand Lodges have divided their jurisdiction into convenient Masonic Districts, in each of which resides a District Deputy, (appointed by the Grand Master,) whose duty it is to inspect, superintend, and instruct the Lodges in his district. Some of the Grand Lodges hold “ QuarterlyGrand Lodges of Instruction.” On this subject, Grand Master Gedge, of Louisiana, in his very able address, says, “If the Grand Lodge at this session should adopt the proposed amendment to the constitution, which I would beg it very respectfully and strongly to do, establishing Grand Lodges of Instruction, the District Deputies could be required to attend them, and by that means would acquire as complete an uniformity in the work and lectures as it is possible for minds differently constituted to attain.” In this connection I would recommend to the Grand Lodge some action with regard to the Text-books or Charts, to be used by the subordinate Lodges. At the present time there are almost as many different kinds of Monitors used as there are Lodges, and in some cases half a dozen different kinds in the same Lodge.”
But nothing was done in Connecticut.
1877. Recommendation by MW Rowe:”The experiences of my administration convince me of the great necessity that exists, of exercising a closer watch-care and guardianship over our subordinate Lodges. To this end I earnestly recommend to your consideration the propriety of an amendment to our Constitution, whereby provision shall be made for the appointment of District Deputy Grand Masters. Let this Grand Lodge regulate the number of such appointments, define their duties, and designate their rank, leaving the Grand Master to make the appointments. By this action we may have a careful inspection of every Lodge in the state yearly, and relieve the Grand Master of much of the labor that now of necessity devolves upon him.”
But the proceedings of 1877 comments: “In the matter of District Deputy Grand Masters, Your Committee, in view of the well defined ample powers of the Grand Master to call to his aid whatever assistance may, in his judgment, be necessary for the good of the craft, we do not perceive the necessity of creating new officers and defining their powers, and recommend that no action be taken.”
However, in 1878, an amendment was proposed, “The Grand Master shall appoint District Deputy Grand Masters, one for each county in the State, whose duty it  shall be to officially visit (once at least in each year,) and examine into the  condition of the several Subordinate Lodges, reporting their doings to the Grand Master; and the actual expenses of such officers to be paid by the Grand Lodge.” This motion laid over and was defeated at the next session.
1879 found the following from the Grand Master, “owing to the depressed condition of the treasury I felt it my duty to dispense with the services of District Deputies, or Proxies.”
1880From the many letters of inquiry, and the numerous questions propounded, I am convinced that some system of instruction to the subordinate Lodges should be provided by the Grand Lodge. We have now neither Grand Lecturer or District Deputy Grand Masters, and officers of subordinates wishing instruction or information on any point, have no recourse but to the Grand Master.I would recommend that our jurisdiction be divided into a suitable number of Masonic districts, and that the Grand Master annually appoint a District Deputy Grand Master for each Masonic district.
1881 found proxies appointed and the recommendation of deputies to be reviewed. A special committee put forth the following; ” Resolved, That until the Grand Lodge shall otherwise direct, this jurisdiction shall be divided into seven Masonic Districts, whose boundaries shall correspond with the present boundaries of the several counties of this State, except the counties of Tolland and Windham, which shall be comprised in one Masonic District.Resolved, That each District Deputy Grand Master shall have power, and it shall be his duty, to visit officially every Lodge in his District, at least once in each year, to preside in each Lodge if he shall so elect, to examine its books and records, to ascertain the number of members, and the condition of its finances, and to carefully ascertain the state and condition of the Lodge in every respect; to point out any errors he may discover, and to give all necessary instruction; to prepare, on blanks to be furnished by the Grand Secretary, a statement of the condition of each Lodge in his District, and transmit such statement to the Grand Master, to be by him laid before the Grand Lodge; to prepare a report for the year ending on the first day of December in each year, as to the general condition of Masonry in his District, and his acts therein, with such particulars as he may deem necessary, and transmit such report to the Grand Master,
This resolution passed, and so the number of districts was increased to seven, one less than the number of counties in Connecticut due to the combining of Windham and Tolland Counties. (14,600 members)
The railway system in Connecticut dates from the 1837 when the first rail line was laid between Stonington and Providence. Another line, the Hartford & New Haven Railroad, connecting Hartford and New Haven, was opened in 1839. In 1848 the New York & New Haven Railroad was founded and by 1849 New York City and all of Connecticut were connected by rail. By the American Civil War, Connecticut had the highest density of railroads in the country and in the mid-1870s, the newly merged New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was the most prosperous and dominant commercial enterprise in New England. By 1881, railroads were well established and had no impact on either the Masonic districts or the county system. It would be another 23 years until the districts would be redrawn again.
Connecticut chartered its first railroads in 1832, and by the end of the 19th century about two dozen railroad corporations had built approximately 1,000 miles of main line track within the state. At first, construction took place in the state’s well-traveled north-south river valleys, where grades were flat and stream crossings few. The construction of east-west roads followed. These were more difficult to construct because they passed across the state’s hilly uplands, and so, they were often built in smaller increments.
Even what one would consider outlying areas were covered by railroads. The Housatonic Railroad began service in 1840 and reached the Massachusetts state line by 1842.
The old New Haven to Northhampton line was started in 1846, when the New Haven & Northampton Canal Co. was authorized to build a railroad to replace the canal. This roughly follows what is the current Rt. 10.
The most important of these east-west railroads was the New York & New Haven, completed from New York City to New Haven in 1848. Together with the Hartford & New Haven Railroad from Hartford to Springfield and the Boston & Albany Railroad in Massachusetts, the New York & New Haven created the first all-rail route between New York and Boston, along the path of the Upper Post Road. Other New York-to-Boston routes followed, including a shoreline rail through New London and Providence and the famous Air Line route that ran diagonally across eastern Connecticut from New Haven through Middletown and Willimantic.
Connecticut created a General Railroad Commission in 1853 to monitor the operations of all railroads in the state, which helped to reduce the number of train accidents. By the time of the Civil War, rail travel in Connecticut had become generally safe, convenient, and reliable.
1889 saw the title change from “District Deputy Grand Master” to simply District Deputy. This was merely to simplify the title with the reasoning that a representative of any office does not automatically become a “deputy” of the office. A representative of a Prince does not become a “Deputy Prince.”
In 1903 a Special Committee on Division of Masonic Districts was appointed to oversee the addition of deputies. their report was adopted and additional deputies were appointed for the Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield county districts.
In 1904, there were 110 lodges and 19,047 members in Connecticut. There was growth occurring both in the number of lodges and the membership. The appointment of additional deputies the past year created a contradiction and question whether a “district” could have more than one “deputy.” The was resolved by creating two additional districts by splitting the Litchfield District in half and making the east side of Litchfield County combine with the west side of Hartford County. What became District 2 also included the northern portion of Fairfield County. Districts 2 and 3 also cur significant portions from Fairfield County and New Haven County. Hartford County was divided between relatively western and eastern sections, creating Districts 5 and 6. Old Lyme was taken from New London district and added to District 7, Middlesex County. With this increased number of districts, there wasn’t the need for additional deputies and each district reverted to a single deputy. An association of Actual Past Masters of Hartford County is still in existence as a remnant of earlier times.
1919Redistricting of Lodges.Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to consider a readjustment of District No. 3 (13 Lodges), District No. 4 (18 Lodges), and District No. 5 ,(10 Lodges), and report to the next annual communication of this Grand Lodge.Later, the incoming Grand Master appointed as such Special Committee the District Deputies of these Districts.
1921Report of Committee on Redistricting of Lodges.To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Connecticut, A. F. & A. M.:The Committee on Redistricting of Lodges beg leave to report that they have had the same under consideration, and recommend that no change be made at this time.
1939 (Membership 128 lodges, 34,555 membership)Recommendation of outgoing GM Morris Payne:”In my opinion to carry out a progressive program it will be necessary to enlist the services of an additional Brother in each District, if not two. The status of this additional Brother to the regularly appointed District Deputy has received considerable thought and, based on opinions formed by myself and gained from others, I recommend that the incoming Grand Master appoint in each District an assistant to the District Deputy. This additional Brother to be given an appropriate title and charged with specific duties, and to be endowed with all the rights and privileges now extended to District Deputies.There can be no question regarding the inequalities that exist in the several Districts as to the territory involved and the number of Lodges in each District. I recommend that a study be made of this situation for the consideration of the Grand Lodge one year hence.”
Resolved: “The Grand Master may in his discretion appoint, in addition to the Custodians of the Work, one Associate Custodian of the Work in each of the nine Masonic Districts, such appointments to expire at the following Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge.Section 4—Each Associate Custodian of the Work so appointed shall be under the supervision of the District Deputy for the District in which he is appointed, and he shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the District Deputy from time to time, except that nothing herein contained shall be construed to permit such Associate Custodian of the Work to perform the duties required of District Deputies by Chapter XXIV of the Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations.
Report of Committee on Rules and Regulations: “relating to inequality existing in the several Masonic Districts as to the territory involved and the number of Lodges in each District beg leave to report, that it has had the same under consideration and is of the opinion that the recommendation of the Grand Master, that a study be made of this situation should be adopted. The Committee, therefore,  recommends the adoption of the following resolution:
Resolved:  That the incoming Grand Master appoint a committee of as many members as he may deem necessary to make a study of this subject and to report its findings and recommendations to the next Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge.
1940Recommendation of Outgoing GM Desmond:”Observation of the operation of this hastily arranged system, however, has convinced me that better service can be rendered to the Lodges by discontinuing the office of Associate Custodian and appointing additional District Deputies. Two men in the same district can do better work if each has independent contact with a few Lodges, than if one assists the other in all the Lodges. If you approve the recommendation of the Committee on District Deputies, I recommend that the office of Associate Custodian be abolished.”
Report of Committee on Masonic DistrictsA study of the replies to questions that have been asked discloses a great difference in opinions on the subject in question. There appears to he general agreement that the present District system could be improved in some way. The solution to the problem of how best to improve the situation is not so easy to discover from the replies and suggestions that have been made over the period of about a year. It is very evident, however, that many of our Brethren have given the matter considerable thought over a period of a number of years and have formed very definite ideas of how the situation can be taken care of without creating hardships or entirely abandoning the custom of years’ standing. The principle that Masonry is unchanging does not entirely apply to such things as Masonic Districts and District Deputies. In the case of Districts and Deputies the thought should be whether or not a change is desirable for the best interests of masonry in Connecticut. A study of the data received appears to suggest that a change is necessary and desirable.If this is so then the solution is, in what way should the present Deputy system be changed and in what manner should the set-up of Districts be changed for the best interests of all concerned?Perhaps the whole matter can be best understood by stating questions and following the questions with replies based on the information at hand.
1—Should the entire State be re-districted masonically?Answer: No.
2—Should present Districts be increased or reduced in size?Answer: Yes. Equalization in the number of Lodges is favored by many. The excessive amount of travel in some Districts is given as a reason for the affirmative answer to this question.
3—What Districts appear to require equalization in number of Lodges or alteration of District boundaries Answer: First, Second, and Third Districts.
4—How can the situation be best adjusted in these Districts ?Answer: By dividing the Second and Third Districts into about the same number of Lodges each with the boundary between the two Districts running East and West instead of the general North and South boundary line as it now exists. In the First District by dividing the District into about equal parts and adding a Deputy.
5—Should any changes in other Districts be made at this time as regards the shifting of Lodges from one District to another ?Answer: No. There are apparently some Lodges in the present District set-up that obviously could be better taken care of if they were in another District area. However, it is believed that such changes should be initiated by the Lodges and not by a Grand Lodge Committee.
6—Should Associate Custodians be continued in their present capacity, or should they become assistant District Deputies with the same authority to represent the Grand Master as now vested in the District Deputy ?Answer: It is believed that the Associate Custodians have done splendid work and should be continued in their present capacity and standing and under the directions of the District Deputies.
7—Should Additional District Deputies be appointed in each District?Answer: Yes. It is believed that additional Deputies should be appointed in each District.
8—Should these additional Deputies have a different status in masonic rank as compared to the present Deputies?Answer: No. All Deputies should be of equal rank.
9—If of equal rank how would they function in their respective Districts ?Answer: Each District should be divided as near equally as possible and a Deputy assigned to each sub-division.
10-U-Would the creation of additional Deputies increase the cost to the Grand Lodge?Answer: Not necessarily, as each Deputy would only be required to perform about one-half the amount of traveling as he is now expected to do.
11—Should additional Associate Chaplains be appointed in the event Districts are divided?Answer: Yes.
12—Should additional Associate Custodians of the Work be appointed in the event the Districts are’ divided?Answer: It is believed that the functions of the Associate Custodian are such that they could very well be conducted by or under the direction of the Deputies. The division of Districts should not mean that long established customs of interchange of visits, ideas, fraternal relations and association should cease. The thought back of establishing two groups of Lodges within a District is for the closer relationship of the Grand Master with subordinate Lodges through the District Deputies.
13—Would the division of Districts into two parts cause the abandonment, of present Masters’, Wardens’ and Secretaries’ associations?Answer: One of the reasons back of the division of Districts is because in many Districts the distance between Lodges is so great that District meetings are very poorly attended. In such Districts an association in each subdivision would be welcomed. In Districts as now organized where the associations are functioning well and attendance is good, there is no reason why two associations should be organized. District lines will not be altered, except as determined in the case of the Second and Third Districts, and the only difference will be that one part of the District will be known as North, South, East or West, or some such designation. Actually the Districts to all intents and purposes will be the same as at present.
14—What effect will the changing of Districts have on the appointment of Grand Lodge Officers?Answer: None. The usual rotation can be followed as at present. There will still be nine Districts.
15—Should there be particular objection to the appointment of additionalDistrict Deputies ?Answer: No. In many Grand jurisdictions the number of Deputies as compared to the Grand Lodge membership is far in excess of the number in Connecticut. By appointing double the number in Connecticut, opportunity is presented to reward twice as many deserving Brothers for their masonic activities.
16—Is closer contact between the Grand Master and his Lodges advisable at this time?Answer: Yes. Lack of interest in masonry can be attributed to modern day activities. Attendance at Lodges as fallen off in a marked degree since the appearance o the moving pictures, radio and automobile. To revive interest in masonic activities requires as many pairs of hands as can be made available. Additional Grand Lodge representation in the Masonic Districts should be of material assistance to the Grand Master who has many duties to perform during his tenure of office that often prevents his personal attendance at functions of the Lodges.It is hoped that the foregoing will shed some light on a subject that has been under discussion throughout the State in varying degrees for a long time.
In conclusion, this report would not be complete without some recommendation.Therefore, it is recommended that: 1—The Second and Third Districts be re-districted as shown on the accompanying map. This requires the changing the boundary line between these two Districts so that North of the boundarythe following Lodges would be included:
District No. 3: Lodges Nos. 7, 11, 13, 21, 27, 37, 48, 54, 55, 61, 64, 74,96, 121—Total 14.South of the boundary the following Lodges would be included: District No. 2:Lodges Nos. 12, 17, 40, 42, 47, 76, 78, 82, 83, 123, 135,136—Total 13.
2—It is further recommended that each District be divided into two parts as indicated on the accompanying map.
3—It is further recommended that two Deputies be appointed for each District. One of them to come from each sub-division of the District.
4—It is further recommended that the work now assigned to Associate Custodians be assigned to the District Deputies if two Deputies are appointed in each District.
5—It is further recommended that an Associate Grand Chaplain be appointed for each sub-division of each District.
Sincerely and fraternally,MORRIS B. PAYNE,Past Grand Master
Committee on Rules and Regulations (6)The Committee on Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations, to whom was referred the report of M. W. Brother Payne regarding proposed changes in, and division of the present Masonic Districts, and the appointment of additional District Deputies, begs leave to report as follows:The Committee has conferred with present and past District Deputies from each of the Districts in an endeavor to ascertain the views of the Lodges regarding the subject matter of this Report.There seems to be a unanimous opinion, except in the Second District, against the subdivision of Districts, and in all of them a unanimous opposition to the transfer of any Lodge from its present District to another, or to any plan which might now or hereafter change the present District boundaries, including those of the Second and Third Districts. Therefore, the Committee recommends that no change be now made in any District boundaries, and that no District be subdivided and no Lodge transferred to another District. However, the majority of those interviewed believed that assistance of some kind is required by the District Deputy, this being particularly true in the First, Fourth, and Sixth Districts because of the large number of Lodges and in the Second and Third Districts because of the extent of their territory. There is also the feeling that a better system of assistance to the Deputies can be found than the scheme of Associate Custodians of the Work, which was provided for one year ago. The Committee has given consideration to the passage of legislation which would have permitted in the discretion of the Grand Master the appointment of additional District Deputies. However, we find a constitutional provision in Article 7 which provides that a District Deputy shall be appointed over each District.While a constitutional amendment was introduced at the last Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge and is now lying on the table for action, such amendment provides only for a change in the number of the Lodges in the District and not for a change in the number of Deputies.The Committee recommends that the proposed constitutional amendment be rejected and is having introduced a new amendment to cover the Deputy situation, which will have to lie over until the next Annual Communication.The Committee further recommends that the present system of the Associate Custodian be continued for the ensuing year, that the matter of additional deputies be discussed in the various constituent Lodges and that the entire matter be left in the hands of this Committee for further study and action after this Grand Lodge has passed on the newly proposed constitutional amendment.
The motion offered a year ago to change the Constitution and recorded on Page 124 of the 1939 Proceedings, was taken from the table and rejected. In its stead the following was offered by Wor. Starr L. Beckwith-Ewell, to lie over until the next Annual Communication and, as such, was accepted.Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended to read as follows:Article 7. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed.
1941Committee on Rules and Regulations (5)The Committee on Rules and Regulations to whom was referred the proposed constitutional amendment relating to District Deputies beg leave to report that in the opinion of the Committee this is a matter that should be decided by the Grand Lodge and the Committee submits it to the members thereof without  recommendation either for or against its passage.
The Report was accepted and discussion of the amendment resumed. An amendment proposed by Wor. Herbert L. Emanuelson of Wooster Lodge, No. 79, was defeated and then the original amendment:Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended to read as follows:Article 7. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed, was rejected.
1949The following Resolution was presented by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond. Being an amendment to the Constitution, it was received and ordered to lie over until the next Annual Communication.Resolved, that Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution be amended so that it shall read as follows:The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed but no District shall comprise less than ten Lodges.
1950 (131 lodges, 43,396 members)AMENDMENT, GRAND LODGE CONSTITUTIONThe following resolution, which was presented to this Grand Lodge at its One hundred and Sixty-first Annual Communication and ordered to lie over until the next Annual Communication, was brought before the Grand Lodge by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond, who moved its adoption:Resolved, That Article 7 of the Grand Lodge Constitution, be amended so that it shall read as follows:The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into Districts over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed but no District shall comprise less than ten Lodges.Adopted.
1983 (133 lodges, 28,936)Synopsis of Changes from Tentative Revision of 19822. Sect. 2600 was left intact, except that the specific 5-year timetable for redistricting was omitted, leaving it up to the Grand Lodge and the Jurisprudence Committee as to when such redistricting would be necessary to keep the nine districts equal in size.
1987Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master Dennis ElkinsHaving spent several years in the Grand Lodge line, it has become increasingly apparent that a one year term of office does not allow ample time to effectively implement programming. Additionally, our present process of selecting qualified Brothers by district suffers from severe problems of imbalance. Three of our  districts and the sub-districts therein are considerably larger, more than twice as big, than four other districts. I therefore recommend that a special committee be appointed to consider redistricting the state into six districts and a two year system be developed based on these six districts. It is my opinion that this would provide a truly competitive system and insure solid programming. In addition, by properly developing such a system, highly qualified men would have the opportunity and desire to become further involved in our great fraternity.

1993 (125 lodges, 21,977 membership)To permit a District to comprise of less than nine lodges, if it becomes necessary, be it resolved that the Constitution, Article VII, Jurisdiction To Be Divided Into Districts, be amended to change “no District shall comprise of less than nine lodges” to “no District shall comprise of less than eight lodges.” Article VII will then read:The Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge shall be divided into nine districts, over each of which one or more District Deputies shall be appointed, but no district shall be comprised of less than eight lodges.It was moved and voted affirmatively that this report of the Committee on Rules, Regulations and Jurisprudence be accepted to lay over to the next Regular Communication.
1994The subject of unbalance within the Masonic Districts in Connecticut, has arisen frequently.A new Special Committee was formed this year, the Masonic District Realignment Evaluation Committee, to review this subject in detail. The committee is headed by Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Norman L. Getchell. Their charge is to review the unbalance and to recommend changes and to prepare recommendations affecting Grand Lodge Officers, Grand Lodge Committees, the concerns o f the lodges effected and all aspects that would develop from their recommendations. The committee has a representative from each of the present nine districts. Because of the scope of this task, our incoming Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master have agreed to continue this special committee for at least the next two years to provide ample time to reach a sound set of  recommendations.
1995REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON MASONIC DISTRICT REALIGNMENT EVALUATION REVIEWYour committee has met regularly to follow the guidelines as furnished to us in the committee’s “CHARTER OF WORK’1. Our discussions have led to many areas of thought and ideas. These areas have excited our thought process and in so doing have given us all a broader understanding of the many differences which exist across our Grand Jurisdiction. Committee members have participated in discussions and presentations at lodge meetings, Blue Lodge Councils, and with many brothers individually. In addition, many brothers at all levels have written proposals and ideas for our consideration. Each written presentation has been reviewed by this committee and on several occasions the proposal writer has been in attendance to present and discuss his thoughts and reasons for making his proposal.During the Semi-Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge, held in October of 1995, a survey form was handed out to those in attendance for input to this committee. Of the approximate 380 members present the committee received about 190 responses. Most of the responses were of a positive nature and the committee was most pleased and encouraged by those who responded. As a group, a disappointment was felt that more brothers did not respond to make the survey more representative of those in attendance.Our recommendations to Grand Lodge at the October 1996 Semi-Annual Communication will be in part as follows:Realign the Districts from nine to six.Realign the Districts to have equity in the number of lodges per District,(approximately twenty).By having an equal number of lodges per district, a more even number of voting members is created at Grand Lodge sessions.Population by district would create a lack of equity in some districts.The committees next order of business will cover the Grand Lodge Line Structure.The committee agrees to the method of selecting the Grand Lodge Officer by each district permanent members as now utilized by the Grand Lodge officers. The committee has scheduled our final report to be presented at the Semi-AnnualCommunication in October, 1996, and to submit for the Grand Lodge consideration at the Annual Communication in April, 1997.
1996Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Norman L. Getchell, Chairman of the Realignment Committee to report on the proposal which they will present at theAnnual Grand Lodge Communication in April.Most Worshipful Brother Getchell presented the following points of Realignment:1. Change the breakdown of the State from nine to six districts; each District to have approximately the same number o f lodges.2. That the Progressive Grand Lodge Line be composed of four elected Officers: Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Senior Warden, and Grand Junior Warden.3. That the line will be completed with two appointed Officers; the Grand Senior and Junior Deacons. The Grand Deacons will represent the two districts not having elected Grand Lodge Officers.4. Each District to have three District Deputies and three Associate Grand Marshals or Grand Chaplains.5. That a meeting be called by the Grand Lodge Officer in each District at which the permanent members of Grand Lodge, and the Masters and Wardens of each lodge in the District may make recommendations for the Progressive Line and the position o f District Deputy.6. That this Realignment and evaluation be performed in five years (the next in 2002) and every ten years thereafter.
1996MASONIC DISTRICT REALIGNMENT REVIEW COMMITTEEThe Most Worshipful Grand Master called upon Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Brother Norman L. Getchell for the report of the Masonic District Realignment Review Committee. He reminded the Craft in attendance that the motion to be presented at the conclusion of the report is a constitutional change that must lay over until the Semi Annual Communication in October of this year, at which time a final vote will be taken on the motion.My brothers, you have the report of the Masonic District Realignment Review Committee in your packet. It is found in Section KK. The differences between what we presented to you in October and today are so listed on page seventeen and those corrections which include the mergers of Lodges and so forth that have happened since that date, we hope that we got everything in. I see no reason to read this report. The first recommendation is a constitutional change requiring a change from nine to six districts. The other recommendations are pretty much recommendations and suggestions. Is there any discussion? I present this report and ask that it be accepted for discussion.Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Richard Hodgson moved to amend the beginning language under recommendation number Five of the re-districting proposal which would clearly define that “The Grand Lodge Officer representing the District who has just lost representation should request each permanent Grand Lodge Member and Worshipful Master or Senior and Junior Warden of said District Lodges, for a recommendation for appointments to the Grand Lodge progressive line and District Deputy.”The Most Worshipful Grand Master clarified the wording of the amendment by stating: “ what Brother Hodgson wants to add in here as wording is simply to make it clear that it’s a District that’s losing a Grand Lodge Officer. It would be then my District that is replacing me and naming someone else into the Grand Lodge. So we’re just adding a couple words to clarify that point. The motion to amend was seconded and passed.BROTHER FRED LORENSON: Worshipful Master, Fred Lorenson from Shepherd Salem No. 78. I would like to speak in opposition to this redistricting. I think the idea of bringing that down to six, you’re going to be destroying the Districts which have for many, many years worked within themselves to accomplish certain things all the way through. You are going to destroy what has happened over the years.Secondly, when I spoke a little bit in opposition to this at our Semi-Annual session, I suggested that the Committee look into the possibility of leaving the Districts the way they are; however, changing the set-up of our Grand Lodge by changing some of our Constitutional avenues so that we do not have a progressive line as such but limit that portion of it. I had written to the committee on it and I would like to know if there was any discussion or what might have happened relative to that letter.BROTHER GETCHELL: Most Worshipful Brother Lorenson, we received your report. We reviewed your report. We did not feel that in this present context that we could do it in time to maintain our schedule. And we also felt we had a number of problems. One we thought that politics would come into it. That was one of our highest priorities as not to allow politics to arise in our Grand Lodge and to keep a balance across the state. That’s what we tried to do is maintain a balance so that all the Districts would have equal representation which they do not now. So those were our main criteria, and we — we certainly reviewed your report and that was pretty much the Committee’s unanimous reasoning.BROTHER LORENSON: I would entertain the opportunity before our next session to relay some of this to the other members within the state so that their decision might also be taken into account relative to the election portion as well as – 1 just feel changing the Districts will spoil much of the ability of the District to accomplish certain things. Thank you very much.BROTHER GETCHELL: One point on that, my brothers, when I went to the Ninth District to make this presentation, one of their problems was because they are the highest attended Blue Lodge Council in our Grand Jurisdiction, the smallest and the largest attendance. One of their problems was that they would not have room to put all the brothers to have a meal. There was no place large enough in the Ninth District to put more brothers in. They were having 125 approximately brothers in attending their meeting. I think that’s a wonderful problem to have, to have to add on several Lodges to bring in more brothers and find a place to accommodate them. That’s a positive thing, one of the true positive things we had out of our discussions. That really is a hard problem to solve. There are so many easy ways to take care of such situations.BROTHER DAVID POGG: Worshipful Master, David Pogg, Hartford 88. I notice one problem that I can see right off the bat. Hartford 88 would be scheduled to meet in the proposed Third Masonic District. The problem is we now meet in East Hartford which would be the new proposed Sixth Masonic District. I was just wondering why we have not been moved over into the Sixth and if there’s a problem with this, at this time, I would like to make a motion that 88 remain in the Sixth District where it currently meets with the other Lodges in the new proposed Sixth District that we do most of our visitations and exchange of the Craft work with.
Right Worshipful Brother Carl Ek referred to the Article VII, No. 5, which reads, “That the following procedure be a guideline for selecting.” He moved that the line be amended to read, “That the following be the procedure for selecting” rather than a guideline. An amendment was made, seconded and passed.
An amendment was offered to delay the decision on re-districting until the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut in April, 1998. The motion was made, seconded and defeated. Action will be taken in October 1997 as originally scheduled.
Most Worshipful Past Grand Master Getchell closed his remarks by stating: “My brothers, we have made available the members o f the Committee to attend any o f your meetings, Blue Lodge Councils, Lodge, Fellowcraft Clubs, whatever you want to call it or just a gathering of Brothers. We cannot say how many, whether it’s large or small, we will come and make the presentation, and discuss these things with you, and get your input. We feel that most of the Brothers in this Grand Jurisdiction really don’t care. We did a survey one year ago last October. There were three hundred and eighty Brothers in attendance. One hundred and eighty Brothers filled out the survey. We handed them out and asked them to be turned back in or mailed. Fifty percent of the Brothers responded. Now what happened to the other fifty percent of the Brothers? It makes it very difficult to work on this type of thing when the Brothers do not participate by being a part of the process. So we ask you, please come out and give us your assistance. Thank you very much.”
1997 (112 lodges, 20,560)Resuming business, the Grand Master called on Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, Brother Norman L. Getchell for a report on the work of the Masonic District Realignment Evaluation Review Committee. There was a thorough discussion o f the project with several Brothers speaking at length.A vote was taken on redistricting and was defeated.
2005Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master George Greytak1. That the Grand Lodge continue to look into the feasibility of redistricting. As Lodges continue to consolidate, and districts become smaller, our Grand Lodge may be better served with fewer districts.2. That a special committee be formed to explore alternatives to the current 9-year Grand Lodge Line progression. If redistricting is indeed accepted, the tradition of having 9 districts, with 1 Grand Lodge Officer from each district, becomes a moot point.
2006 (95 lodges, 14,543 membership)Recommendation of Outgoing Grand Master Charles B. Fowler, Jr.1. That the committee on Masonic Districts which was set up to look into the feasibility of redistricting be continued. As Lodges continue to consolidate, and districts become smaller, our Grand Lodge may be better served with fewer districts. Further, that the same committee continue to explore alternatives to the current 9-year Grand Lodge Line progression and our means of selection of Grand Lodge officers.
2007REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON MASONIC DISTRICTSTo the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Connecticut:The committee charges as given to the committee by the Grand Master read in part:Review the present District structure and develop a plan for equalizing the number of Lodges assigned to each District.Determine if retaining nine Districts is desirable or if a reduction should be considered, and if so, to what extent.Review the present method of selecting Grand Line Officers who automatically progress to the office of Grand Master to determine if it best serves the Grand Lodge or if there is a better way. If a reduction in the number of Districts is recommended, develop a plan for the succession of the extant Grand Lodge Officers.The Committee started meeting in October of 2006 and spent the first few meetings getting organized. Members were recruited from all nine districts. Several proposals have been presented by various members of the committee resulting in discussion concerning what’s best for the State of Connecticut.At present the members of the committee have been tasked to discuss the concerns/problems with the members of their respective districts via Blue Lodge Council meetings. The task assigned to the committee is one that is very complex and will take cooperation from all Masons. The Committee will return to the Blue Lodge Councils with further proposals as they develop.R.W. Donald W. Dean, ChairmanR.W. Michael B. DodgeR.W. Arthur H. CarlstromW.B. Carl J. MossbergR.W. Thomas M. Maxwell IIM.W. Kenneth B Hawkins Sr.W.B. Frank DlugoleskiW.B. John H. SpencerR.W. James T. McWain
A second motion to change Section 2400 to eliminate the number of Lodges assigned to District Deputies, leaving the matter to the discretion of the Grand Master, was ADOPTED.
2008 (93 lodges, 13,926)Grand Master Stika asked for a consensus o f the Craft on the matter of Redistricting. By an overwhelming majority, the voting members present indicated that we should not, at this time, give further consideration to the issue of redistricting.
2015We now find ourselves with that history; a history of lack of change. What are we as Masons if we do not thrive on change? Our whole being as Freemasons are about the change we endeavor in ourselves, a change for good. Why can we not look for change in our districts? We certainly will not be relocating lodges just as we would not re moving our  own geographical residences simply because we have changed as individuals.
Districts were for the purpose of supervision by a representative, proxy, or deputy of a Grand Master. A Grand Master’s first responsibility is to see his jurisdiction is kept “regular.” That means its members can be recognized by other jurisdictions as “regular” and therefore “accepted.” We are bound by that duty to have a Volume of Sacred Law on our altars, to not admit women, to refuse discussion of religion and politics, and thus be kind and Masonic to each other. To do otherwise will incur the displeasure of other jurisdictions and would ultimately make us alone in the world. We can only claim that we have attained the sublime degree of Master Mason if we can prove ourselves one, and travel and work as one.
Thus, we find districts are meant as an administrative function of the Grand Master. My “redistricting” did not change any of the associations lodges had enjoyed with regard to relations between themselves. It did not affect Blue Lodge Councils and was not intended to. It was not to change a family of lodges, just the oversight of them. My redistricting took into account a variety of factors. I wanted the Deputy to be able to be able to attend his own lodge, not have to travel out of his way, and not have lodges that met the same night. This took a lot of work and organizing, and it was not meant to be static or a “new” permanent grouping of lodges.
The GPS question assumed the choice of not going back to the nine district system would otherwise cement into new districts, but as I continually tried to emphasize, the districts were meant to be redrawn almost every year, as deputies changed.
I saw that with the old system, boundaries were created that not only kept brothers from visiting throughout the state, but also allowed practices to develop that were not beneficial to the Craft. One entire district did not perform the entire tragedy of the Master Mason degree at every degree but only perhaps once a year. This had become their district tradition. Grand Lodge officers would progress through the line carrying with them only the knowledge of their districts, and would likewise “protect” their district from criticism or oversight.
Certainly having a brother from another area come and supervise might be unnerving for some, but most deputies and lodges welcomed the “new” brothers. Masonry was on the road to becoming “Connecticut Freemasonry” not just “District X Freemasonry.” We are a jurisdiction not just a district. We should not let our identity stop at a district line but embrace the entire state.
Connecticut’s districts developed from county lines. As membership grew lines were redrawn accordingly. District equality has always been a problem and Grand Masters and committees have recognized this and tried to implement solutions. The inequality has produced an inordinate imbalance between districts. If we are to continue the tradition of maintaining the districts, we will find that imbalance exaggerated.
Connecticut’s  Masonic leaders of  1881, 1904, and 1950 endeavored to make corrections as Masonic membership grew. The membership approved of their changes. Since the height of membership in 1958, the decline has also brought about calls for changes to Masonic districts, in 1987, 1993, 1996, 2005, 2006, and 2007. We have failed to adapt to the realities we face.
We honor the dead for giving us the world we inherited. However, we must recognized we are doomed if we allow the dead to govern us.
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THE DISTRICT DEPUTY SYSTEM IN CONNECTICUTBy M. W. Earle K. Haling, Grand SecretaryFrom the early history of this Grand Lodge, as recorded in its Proceedings, there have been numerous attempts to knit the Lodges to each other and to the Grand Lodge by promoting uniformity in the ritual and closer contact with the Grand Master or his representatives.Before the formation of the Grand Lodge and throughout its recorded history the matter of “uniformity in the work” was considered of paramount importance and many and varied are the methods that were at different periods proposed or adopted. At the first Convention of Delegates, representing twelve Lodges, held in New Haven on April 29, 1783, it was voted “that a person be appointed to visit each of the Lodges in this State, in order that there may be uniformity in the mode of working among the brethren; and that Brother Jonathan Heart be appointed for that purpose”. Brother Heart’s expenses and a compensation to be paid by the respective Lodges.As early as October 1795, after the formation of the Grand Lodge, the desire of the Lodges for greater uniformity in their work is shown by the submission of the following resolution:“Resolved, That our Most Worshipful Grand Master be requested to make a visit, either by himself or by some suitable person or persons, which he shall appoint for that purpose, to the several Lodges in this State, acknowledging the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, for the purpose of establishing a uniformity in working, and that the expense be defrayed from the funds of this Lodge.”In October 1796, a Committee was appointed to further this object.The first proposal for the division of the jurisdiction into Districts and the appointment of Inspectors, said to have come from Union Lodge No. 31 of New London, is recorded in May 1809—page 217 but after discussion was rejected.Nothing further along these lines is reported until May 1818, page 293, when a resolution was adopted authorizing Brother Jeremy L. Cross as Grand Lecturer, to visit and instruct the Lodges in this jurisdiction at their expense, the fee being 84.00 per day but not to exceed $10.00 plus Brother Cross’ expenses. A year later a committee was given power to liquefy his accounts by drawing on the Grand Treasurer.The first adoption of the Grand Lecturer as a Grand Lodge Officer was made in May 1821 and the Grand Master immediately appointed Brother Jeremy L. Cross as Grand Lecturer. At the same session Brother Cross’ “Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor” was recommended for use as a text book in all Lodges.Brother Cross is listed as Grand Lecturer in the records of each Grand Lodge Annual from 1821 thru 1823. At this latter session a proposed revision of the Grand Lodge Constitution was presented (1823—pages 340, 341) wherein provision was made for six Masonic Districts over each of which the Grand Master should appoint a District Deputy Grand Master with duties corresponding largely to those of our present District Deputies. No provision was made for a Grand Lecturer and Brother Cross’ name fails to appear in subsequent Proceedings. When the new Constitution was brought up for adoption in May 1824 all provisions relating to Masonic Districts and District Deputy Grand Masters were stricken out and rejected and the Constitution, thus amended, laid over until May 1825 when it was adopted. Soon after this action the Morgan excitement so disturbed our Lodges as to cause them to drop the idea of uniformity to be attained by Grand Lodge supervision and devote all their energies to maintaining their own existence.The subject of uniformity is not mentioned again for fifteen years. In 1840 and again in 1841, the Lodges, through lack of supervision, apparently became more divergent in their ritual work. The first four Grand Lodge officers were authorized to visit and instruct any subordinate Lodge and ascertain if it were conforming to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Grand Lodge. In 1842, the excitement having somewhat subsided, a resolution authorizing the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Lecturer was read and rejected. The next year the Committee on Foreign Correspondence (1843— page 561) disparages the appointment of a Grand Lecturer. To quote from this report:“ ‘A burnt child dreads the fire,’ is an old and valued adage, and when we recollect that paid and appointed Grand Lecturers first published and circulated Masonic charts, monitors, and other works, which subsequently proved to be injurious to our Order—that several paid Grand Lecturers became renouncing Masons, and among the first and foremost to slander and abuse many of the faithful and beloved members and pillars of the craft, who in the dark days of anti-Masonic adversity adhered to their obligations and their Masonic faith—ought we not to fear that like causes may again produce like effects and that paid Grand Lecturers may be hereafter what paid Grand Lecturers heretofore proved themselves to be? Your Committee sincerely believe that the principles, usages and customs, and the work in the several degrees of ancient craft Masonry, can be most safely and beneficially communicated (without fee or reward) by instructive tongues to attentive ears, and thus lodged in faithful breasts, in like manner be handed down to the latest Masonic posterity.”And, again in 1844, Grand Master Henry Peck expresses the opinion that it is “inexpedient to lend the sanction of this Grand Lodge to the appointment of Grand Lecturers”. This would indicate that the previous operation under a Grand Lecturer was not altogether satisfactory.The desire for uniformity still persisted and in 1847 it was voted “that the Grand Lodge Officers be requested to exhibit the Work and Lectures of the three degrees before the Grand Lodge during the present communication”. Later in the session, perhaps due to a lack of confidence in the ritualistic ability of the Grand Lodge Officers, this vote was rescinded and a resolution adopted that provided for a Special Communication to be held in Middletown on October 12 and 13, 1847, for the purpose of mutual instruction in the lectures and work. At this Special Communication the three degrees were exemplified by brethren of St. John’s Lodge No. 4 following which, by a resolution adopted, the work as exhibited by St. John’s Lodge No. 4 was approved by this Grand Lodge and “hereby is recommended to the subordinate Lodges under this jurisdiction”.In 1852 Grand Master Sanford called attention to the manner in which some jurisdictions were divided into Districts, with District Deputies appointed by the Grand Master, as a means of encouraging more uniform work and suggested that a committee of one from each County be appointed, to consider and report a plan of action to best insure a uniform mode of work. The Deputy Grand Master expressed the opinion that this could only be done by the appointment of a Grand Lecturer with a suitable number of assistants. These suggestions were referred to a committee which recommended that a Special Communication be called to hear and act on their demonstrated system of work. Such a Special Communication was called in the Hall of St. John’s Lodge No. 3, Bridgeport on March 22, 1853, when the Grand Lodge Officers exemplified all three degrees including proper opening and closing ceremonies, the manner of balloting, and every portion of the work. The ritual as exemplified was adopted by the Grand Lodge as its recognized work.The following year Grand Master David Clark reported “great improvement” in the work of most Lodges. That all of them were not following the “adopted work” is shown by the necessity for the adoption of a resolution affirming “that it is the imperative duty of all Lodges * * * * to conform to all rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge in relation to work”.During the next decade the Lodges were subject to inspection by the first four Grand Officers but that the improvement was not permanent is shown from the following from Grand Master Ensign’s Address a t the 1862 Annual Communication. “How unpleasant it is * * * * to find ourselves among brethren at our own door, as it were, and there listen to words almost unknown * * * *. You can scarcely realize that you are among men claiming to belong to an Institution called universal. * * * * I have recently heard (a Veteran Mason) remark that he could hardly recognize the work in some of our Lodges.”M. W. Brother Ensign appointed a Committee on Uniformity of Work which submitted a lengthy report at the May 1863 Annual in which it reviewed the conditions described by Past Grand Master Ensign, deplored the fact that few Lodges gave, or even knew, the Lectures; and recommended the adoption of a standard of Masonic Work and the appointment of a Grand Lecturer with power to appoint such Deputy Grand Lecturers as he deemed necessary, their traveling expenses plus $2.00 per day to be paid by the Lodge receiving instruction from them. The Report with its recommendation was adopted and Grand Master Alvan P. Hyde, appointed Chauncey M. Hatch of Bridgeport and installed him as Grand Lecturer. Thus after a period of forty years the Office of Grand Lecturer again appears on the Grand Lodge roster.Worshipful Brother Hatch held the office by consecutive annual appointments for the next eleven years and made a Report a t each Annual Communication. The first year he appointed only one Deputy Grand Lecturer, Worshipful Brother E. H. Judd of Waterbury, to assist him. From 1864 through 1866 he seems to have performed his duties unassisted.At the Annual Communication 1867, he was relieved of the power to appoint Deputy Grand Lecturers, the authority being voted to the Grand Master, and the number to be appointed being increased to eight, one for each County, with the added proviso that each Lodge should be visited at least once in each year.In 1871 the re was added a provision that each Lodge should pay the Grand Lecturer or his Deputy “the sum of not less than five dollars”. This method of remuneration was not found satisfactory and was repealed in 1872. Grand Master Lockwood (1873—page 244) suggested that a moderate annual salary be paid the Grand Lecturer by the Grand Lodge. A Report was presented, setting the annual salary at $1800.00, which was laid on the table and seems to have remained there as no further action is reported. The next year (1874), by resolution adopted, the Grand Master was “instructed not to make any appointment to the office of Grand Lecturer until directed by vote of the Grand Lodge,” so that for the next few years the only visitations were those made by the Grand Master himself.In 1877 Grand Master Rowe stated that he was convinced that a great necessity existed for “exercising a closer watch-care and guardianship over our subordinate Lodges” and recommended the appointment of District Deputy Grand Masters and the definition of their duties and rank. The Jurisprudence Committee, believing that the Grand Master had ample powers “ to call to his aid whatever assistance may be necessary” rejected the recommendation. Grand Master Rowe, re-elected, exercised his prerogative by calling to his aid a proxy for each County. They reported at the 1878 Communication.We note that the Masonic Home was first brought to the attention of the Lodges by these proxies, a custom which continued to the present writing. M. W. Brother Rowe again brought up the matter of instruction for the Lodges, recommending that both a Grand Lecturer and District Deputy Grand Masters be appointed (1878—pages 24, 25). The Special Committee to which his recommendation was referred submitted an amendment to the Constitution which would have fully carried out the Grand Master’s desires. This amendment, held over until the 1879 Annual, was defeated. Grand Masters Phelps (1878) and Bullock (1879) did not exercise the prerogative of appointing proxies.However, at the Annual Communication January 21, 1880, R. W. John H. Barlow, Deputy Grand Master, presiding as Grand Master again, brought up the matter and made the recommendation that our jurisdiction be divided into a suitable number of Masonic Districts, and that the Grand Master annually appoint a District Deputy Grand Master for each Masonic District so that the Officers of the subordinate Lodges might more readily obtain Masonic instruction and information (1880—page 20). The Committee on Address referred this recommendation to a Special Committee. Later, on the same day, Brother Waugh of the Committee verbally reported that because of the limited time it would be impossible to make a satisfactory report a t the present session and asked that the Committee be continued with liberty to make said report at the next Annual Communication, which permission was granted. The following resolution “to meet the requirement of the subject for the coming year” was adopted:“Resolved, That the Grand Master be recommended to appoint such a number of Proxies for the coming year as may seem to him required, and that the actual expenses incurred by said Proxies, in the discharge of their duties, be paid by this Grand Lodge.” (1880—page 38)Upon being elected Grand Master, M. W. Brother Barlow appointed proxies as shown in the accompanying table. None was appointed for Middlesex County as he himself visited, with but two exceptions, all the Lodges in that County (1881—page 13).In his Address at the Annual Communication on January 19, 1881, he repeated the recommendation made the year before. The Committee appointed at the last Annual Communication brought in a Report proposing amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws which would effectuate the establishment of a District Deputy System by dividing the jurisdiction into seven Masonic Districts, which boundaries corresponded with the boundaries of the several Counties of the State except that the Counties of Tolland and Windham together comprised one of the Districts, and enumerated the powers and duties of the District Deputy Grand Masters. (1881—page 37).The Report was accepted and laid over until the next Annual Communication.Again a resolution recommending that the Grand Master appoint proxies for the coming year was adopted and M. W. Brother Barlow appointed proxies this year for all of the seven proposed Districts.In his Address to the Grand Lodge at the Annual Communication January 18, 1882, Grand Master Barlow expressed the opinion that the majority of the Lodges did not need to be visited every year and that the District Deputy Grand Masters would need to visit only such Lodges in their respective Districts as the Grand Master should select, (1882—page 17). On the afternoon of the 18th, Brother Waugh for the Committee, brought up his Report which was laid over and made the special order of business for the evening Session (1882—-page 38). At this evening Session the Report was again taken up, and, after considerable discussion, was adopted (1882—pages 42, 43). M. W. James McCormick was elected Grand Master and was the first to appoint District Deputy Grand Masters.The appointments were continued by his successors under this title until January 17, 1889, when the following change in the Constitution laid over from 1888, was adopted: “To strike out the words, wherever they occur, of ‘District Deputy Grand Masters’ and insert in lieu thereof the words ‘District Deputies.’ ” (1889—page 80).The number of Districts remained at seven for twenty-two years, or until 1904. In 1903 Grand Master Arthur C. Wheeler called attention to the disproportion between the Districts, one District having only ten Lodges and another twenty-five, and recommended that an additional Deputy be appointed for Hartford County, and for New Haven County (1903—page 36). The Special Committee to which this was referred, also added another Deputy for Fairfield County and incorporated a resolution providing that the subject of dividing the jurisdiction into suitable Masonic Districts be referred to a “Committee of Three” to report at the next Annual. (1903—page 69). Ten District Deputies were appointed for 1903, there being two appointed in each of the three named Counties, with one, as heretofore, in each of the others. The appointed “Committee of Three” consisted of Past Grand Masters Arthur C. Wheeler, Henry O. Warner and F ran k W. Havens. On January 21, 1904, a t the 116th Annual Communication, it presented a Report which was adopted, dividing the 110 Lodges in the jurisdiction into nine Masonic Districts.This number of Districts has remained constant since that date although several attempts have been made to redistrict, particularly in 1919, 1920 and in 1988. In the latter year Grand Master Morris B. Payne appointed Deputy Custodians in each District to assist and cooperate with the Deputies. This procedure was continued by M. W. Thomas H. Desmond by authorization of the Grand Lodge, (1939—page 115), and Grand Master Hanmer appointed M. W. Brother Payne a “ Special Committee on Masonic Districts”. The Committee reported and made recommendations for redistricting in February 1940, (1940—pages 124, 125), which were rejected by adoption of the Report of the Committee on Rules and Regulations, (1940—pages 148, 149). The office of Associate Custodian was continued for another year when it was abolished. (1941—page 104).Up until 1921 District Deputies were members of the Grand Lodge only during their term of office and their title was “Worshipful”. In 1920 Grand Master Wallace S. Moyle suggested that District Deputies be made permanent members of the Grand Lodge. The Committee on Jurisprudence to which the suggestion was referred presented the following resolution which was adopted:“Resolved, That the Committee on Revision of Grand Lodge Regulations be instructed to incorporate in the revision of the Grand Lodge Rules and Regulations, a regulation creating District Deputies permanent members of the Grand Lodge with the title of Right Worshipful.” (1920— page 110).With the adoption of the Revision Committee’s report in February 1921, all the then Past and P resent District Deputies became permanent members with the title “Right Worshipful” and since then all District Deputies have been entitled to these privileges.

 

Ticket to Ride

When astronaut Sally Ride, the first American women in space, was asked what her launch in the Space Shuttle was like, she replied, “That was definitely an E-ticket!” She was referring to Disneyland’s old admission system where an E-ticket was for the newest, most popular, and exciting ride. Today, it refers to something unusually interesting or thrilling. That’s what the last three months have been for me since I was installed as Grand Master.

The month of May ended with a trip to the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, hosted at a fabulous resort in Digby, after a ferry ride from St. John, New Brunswick. The Grand Master of Rhode Island, Russ Davis, a good friend, and his wife, Laurie, took the ride with Debbi and me. The ferry ride over was more than three hours, and we had a great time talking, investigating the ferry, and generally doing what friends do, talking.

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The session, itself, was held in a hockey rink, which actually made a lot of sense and seemed appropriate. the center of the rink had a circle with two parallel lines on either side. I wondered if they knew we were coming.2013-06-01 07.44.14

The resort was fabulous, but when we went out for dinner at 8:30 p.m. the town was totally closed. Even Tim Horton’s, a mainstay in Canada. Seems we were out of season by a day. The resort was not far from the ferry, and filled with the refined enjoyment of the more ensconced.

DSC_0078The breakfast buffet was wonderful, and the late night bar food was totally satisfying, Russ and I kidded that we were going to charge everything to Room 337, and then at breakfast we sat with the Grand Master of New Brunswick, who’s room was 339. Lucky for us.

When we returned, heavy rain was forecast for Grand Masters Day, part of the tropical storm that drenched Connecticut for the week, but it gave way early to a beautiful, cloudless, and breezy summer day; the best Grand Masters Day in years, at least from my perspective. Everyone congratulated me for changing the weather pattern, but I thought it was a friend of ours looking out for us up above, after just settling in. Thank you, Carl.

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The Vermont Grand Lodge session was in Burlington, Vermont, where I was honored to bring the greetings of the visiting dignitaries. It was in the Davis Center of the University of Burlington.

Davis Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I flew to the DeMolay International Supreme Council and Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Connecticut DeMolay staff headed by Executive Officer Harry Needham III, and including MW George S. Greytak, helped me to enjoy a wonderful time with the boys. I was humbled to be presented with an honorary membership in DeMolay International. Here I am with Executive Officer Harry Needham, State Master Couniclor Matt Lingenfelter, and Deputy State Master Councilor James Cananaugh.

DeMolay Honorary

The next week, I had the pleasure to present two surprises, Pierpont Edward Medals in Bronze to two deserving brothers, RW Mort Katz, and WB Jim Wilson, each at their lodge’s awards night.

Mort Katz

 

Jim WilsonAlso, that week included a visit to the surf and turf Table Lodge at Hiram Lodge No. 18, Sandy Hook. The only thing better than the steak and lobster was the brotherhood. I was privileged to be presented with an honorary membership in Hiram 18 by WM Joe Porco. I have a lot of friends at that lodge, and now I really feel a part of it.

Table Lodge message Hiram 18 Table Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the second year, I was fortunate to speak at the Council of Deliberation of the Scottish Rite of Connecticut. This annual meeting reviewed the gratifying successes of their center to treat children suffering with dyslexia. I thank Illustrious Brother Dave Sharkis, 33° for his welcoming hospitality.

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That night, I fulfilled one of my wishes. I attended the synagogue of Temple Beth David in Cheshire. Several years ago, near the time of our St. John’s Sunday, I also attended the Friday night service there. I found it to be a wonderful experience, and I wanted to return, only as Grand Master this time. Thanks to the efforts of WB David Berger, my wish was realized.

June 23 was St. John’s Sunday, and I knew I had to attend a service somewhere but wasn’t certain where. Years ago the Grand Chaplain would host the Grand Master, but Rev. and RW Bruce Bellmore was slated to entertain the Knight Templar at his church the following Sunday. Then an email came my way from Anchor Lodge No. 112 with the announcement that they would visit RW Stan House’s church for a St. John’s service. So I showed up and had a wonderful time with brothers who I had not seen in a while. Brother Stan is rightfully proud of his lodge, and his brothers turned out for him.

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One of my most electrifying days was Saturday, June 29, at Kelly’s Pub in New Haven, at the 3rd Annual Chicken Challenge. Talk about energy and fun! I had signed up with organizer WB Steve Allinson to be a judge, and while I had heard about more teams than last year, I wasn’t prepared for eight six-man teams ready to chow down to see what team could eat the most chicken tenders. Everyone had a cheering crowd to urge them on, and everyone was cheering for everyone else. What a great time! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our selves. Everyone was a winner for raising funds for the Quality of Life fund of The Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut. I know next year will be bigger, and more lodges will produce teams to give Hiram Lodge No. 1 a run for the championship.

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I have a lot of fun posting photos from some of my experiences on Facebook. It’s fun when someone enjoys something I’ve done, or makes a comment. It’s my way of sharing my adventure, and that’s what this year really is; an adventure. I hope you can enjoy it with me. It’s only just beginning.

Kansas City

I’m going to Kansas City.

This past February the Conference of Grand Masters of North America was in Kansas City, Missouri. I was privileged to attend along with Grand Master Arseneau, Grand Junior Warden Don Dean, and Grand Secretary Bob Fitzgerald. This was my fourth conference, and as usual, I went a day early in order to sit in at the Western Conference of Grand Masters, which always meets the day before.

Connecticut will host the Northeast Conference of Grand Masters on July 20, as the conference revolves around all the member jurisdictions. Delegations of Grand Lodge officers arrive on Friday evening and a banquet is held. The next day, while the wives travel to some interesting site and lunch, the brothers are given presentations on different topics. The day ends with another dinner and time to confer privately. Sunday is getaway day.

My first Northeast Conference was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania pulled out all the stops. Desks and chairs were set up in one of the larger lodge rooms of the Masonic Temple, where presentations were made. It was here that soon-to-be Grand Master Charlie Buck heard about the “Call ’em All” program and decided that would be a good investment for Connecticut. North Carolina was added to the sixteen other member jurisdictions.

The next year the conference was held in New Jersey, a jurisdiction closer to the size and financial ability of Connecticut. The Trenton Temple was a short walk from the hotel, and again, we heard presentations. The next two years were similar, in Delaware and New York. Last year, Wisconsin was added to the now eighteen-member conference.

When I returned from New York conference last summer on Sunday, I knew I was missing something. In the rush to get packed, have breakfast, check out and leave, I missed the fact that we were only a couple of hours away. Arriving home in the middle of the morning after having set aside the entire day, I realized I had foolishly wasted valuable time that could have been spent having a dialog with other Grand jurisdictions who I might not see again for months.

Soon after, I found a letter written to conference attendees some years earlier from then Vermont Grand Master Jack Campbell. He observed that when the conference started there were far fewer members, and each within a day’s drive. There was a lot more “conferring” and fewer presentations. He noted there wasn’t much need for leadership training among the Grand Masters, it was too late.

MW Campbell also saw that the growth of the number of members caused the usual Sunday extension to turn into a “get away” day. Members from further and further away would have to fly, and for some it was more than a few hours drive.

My plan is to return to the original format. I want to sit around a table and talk with these men. They have a lot to say, have tried new and different things, and I want to hear them. As usual, it will be casual.

We will meet at the Hartog Center of Masonicare at Ashlar Village, and topics will be chosen by who wants to lead a discussion of the subject. These men are not the “moss-back” turtles you hear about. They’re not the naysayers that Grand Masters have a reputation for being. They are vibrant, intelligent leaders who have a particular insight into Freemasonry, shaded by their own unique jurisdictions.

Having gone to four Northeast conferences, and four North American conferences, I know they want to hear just as much from the other jurisdictions as they are happy to offer their ideas.

It would be good to hear how they are combating the problems of inertia, dwindling membership, and budget restraints. Their ideas on Masonic education, use of the Internet, and motivating new members would be just as useful. They are all facing brothers that want to do things differently, like traditional observance and European concept lodges.

With over sixty members at the North American conference, most Grand Masters are nearly sixty feet away from each other. The only “conferring” that goes on is in a lounge, a hospitality room, or at dinner. It may take three times being introduced before someone “knows” you, before productive conversations can occur.

My wife, Debbi, has had an opportunity to meet the wonderful ladies of the other jurisdictions. With them, she has toured the CNN center in Georgia, Winterthur in Delaware, the Cloisters in New York, and this year the Harry S Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri. She knows Connecticut has a lot to offer, and July is a beautiful time to see it. She’s looking forward to showing “her friends” what makes our state proud.

The Grand Lodge of Connecticut has a lot to be proud of, and I hope a tour of Masonicare will show why it is one of the highest regarded facilities in the country. Masonicare is looked upon by other jurisdictions as one of the country’s premier Masonic healthcare institutions.

We’re planning a conference that will be short on expense but high on quality. We’ll need a lot of help to organize this conference, and return the hospitality I have received at many of these jurisdictions. WB Larry Baker is leading a special committee to make this all happen. If you can volunteer to help, you will be eligible to attend what is normally a private event. This is a chance of a Masonic lifetime for you.

Connecticut will likely never be able to host a national conference, and the next time we will host the Northeast conference will be almost twenty years away. It is likely they will be talking about the same problems and successes then, as now. It is also highly probable no one will be around to remember what happens here, but they may be enjoying the fruits of our labors without knowing it.

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The U-shaped arrangement at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America. The Grand Masters are seated alphabetically starting at the far right.

I’m Just Wild about HarryI'm Just Wild about Harry

The ladies of various Grand Lodges, including on left, Chris Arseneau and Debbi LaPlace, meet with Harry Truman, at the Harry S Truman Library and Museum.

Mother Nature’s Son

“How did you do with your lecture?” I had taken my first degree a month earlier, and had returned for my second as instructed. The little book full of questions and answers had hardly been opened. I just didn’t spend the time, and truthfully, I never put as much into my schoolwork as I should have, either. Now some twenty years after college, I hadn’t changed my study habits. I stumbled out a half remembered answer.

“Great! Let’s go get your second degree.” “Wow!” I thought, “I didn’t really have to learn anything. It was all a joke. Boy, was I glad I didn’t fall for that and waste my time.” That idea soon disappeared as I paid more attention to the Fellowcraft degree. Am I going to have to learn this lecture I could hardly stand up through? Hey, those guys saying the questions and answers really know it. They’re no better than me. If they can do it, I can do it.

So for the next month I studied. My wife drove my son and I down to Florida for a week’s vacation, and I had my nose in the book the whole time. Of course, they wondered what and why I was bothering with. My son kept asking me, “Are you off or from?”

On our return trip we stopped at the George Washington Memorial and they were impressed that I had joined something more than just the lonely building down the street. This validated to them, and to me, that Freemasonry was big, important, and serious. Somehow, that book of questions and answers had a part in it, and that was important, too.

I took my third degree and met even more men I had known all my life. I didn’t realize they even knew each other, let alone that they belonged to this common group. Now I was part of that group, and could give a knowing nod when I met them.

I talked with my son about how I enjoyed the meetings. We would go to the lodge dinners, work the hot dog stand fundraiser, take the tour of the Masonic Home, and ask questions, trying to figure out just what it all meant, how Freemasonry was structured, and how everyone seemed to enjoy and share in the experience.

We toured the Masonic buildings in Philadelphia and New York and shared the history we learned. It suddenly seemed as though Masonry was all around us. The day after attending my first Grand Lodge annual communication, I visited the Grand Lodge office. There to greet me at the door was Sam Walker, the new Grand Master. Is that what he did as Grand Master? Greet everyone at the door of the Grand Lodge office?

Pretty soon the lodge needed an officer or someone to do a lecture and they asked me to volunteer. My family came to my installations, and pretty soon I was Master of the lodge.

A nice lady at the office named Marje answered all my questions, and I kept coming back with more. Pretty soon I was spending my day off on Monday afternoons helping out at the office, sorting, stapling, and copying. I was a fly on the wall, and kept asking questions. Who was that? What is he? Why did he say that? And everything was a topic of conversation at the dinner table that night.

My wife complained that here I had a tuxedo but never took her out to dinner. We decided to go to the fanciest restaurant we’d heard of, Cavey’s, in Manchester. As we drove into town, looking for the restaurant, I said it was the kind of town that had to have a Masonic Temple. Suddenly my wife said, “There it is!” I made a U-turn and asked where? She said, “Right there!” as she pointed to the huge Masonic building. “Oh, I though you meant the restaurant,” and made another U-turn and kept driving. When we got to the town line, lost, we called the restaurant for directions, and they responded, “We’re right next to the Masonic Temple in the center of town.” At dinner, the waiter asked if I’d just gotten off work as a waiter.

When my son went to boarding school, the first thing we looked for was the Masonic lodge, and found it. The same when he went to college, but this time we found it had been turned into a college office building. We could recognize all the Masonic markings that remained.

When my son turned twenty-one, I gave him a blank petition with a check in it.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” he asked.

“Whatever you want to,” was my reply.

“Well, I want to be a Mason.”

“Then you have to fill it out.”

“What do I put here?”

“The name of the lodge you want to join.”

“I want to join your lodge.”

And so it went, asking if I would be his Recommender, asking who could be his Avoucher. “I don’t know, you have to ask him.” His petition was acted on, and he would take his first degree in six months, the next time he returned home from school. When I sat in the East for his first degree, I don’t think anyone was expecting his hair to be dyed bright red. Can a Mason have dyed-red hair? The point was, it didn’t matter. It was the person, not the color of his hair, or of his skin.

Julian EA

I was proud to have done something my father never did: see his son initiated into Freemasonry. All those shared experiences contributed to his wanting to be a Mason. But it would be another six months before he would be home to take his Fellowcraft degree.

I Should Have Known Better

After I saw my father receive his fifty-year pin, I didn’t think much more about Freemasonry. He didn’t say anything more about it, and there wasn’t any request on his part for a Masonic funeral. Of course, he never admitted his time was getting short, either.

One of the fellows I worked with would mention that he needed to get out on time to make a lodge dinner, or because his lodge was having a degree. This interested me only slightly. I didn’t know why he was cooking, or what a degree was, but it did seem a pretty important thing to him, so I made every effort to keep him on his personal schedule.

One night he stopped by when my store was open late, and he was all dressed up in a tuxedo. It was very impressive and quite a change from the usual work clothes he wore. I remarked that he cleaned up nicely. He commented what a good time he had at his lodge, and he thought I would enjoy the Masons, too, but he never asked me to join, or hinted that I had to ask first.

Then, a couple of years later, an interesting fellow came into the store, looking for me. His name was John Benker, and while he lived in East Hartford, he came to visit and lay flowers at his parents’ graves here in Deep River.

He told me about his Deep River connection and that his parents and my grandfather knew each other. He longed to return to Deep River, but knew that probably wasn’t going to be the case. The best he could do was visit, and bring flowers.

I don’t know why he ever came to the store and asked for me, but I thought it was because he was lonely and didn’t know anyone else, so was looking to make an acquaintance. Then he dropped the bomb on me. “You know, your whole family were Masons, and I’m sure your father would be really proud if you joined.” Why would I join, I thought? If my father was looking down on me, I doubt I’d ever know he might be proud of me for that.

John Benker persisted. “You know it would be a great thing if you and your brother and his son joined, too!” Well, I assured him, that wasn’t going to happen. Not only was it unlikely that I was going to join, but I knew they sure weren’t going to. I wasn’t the type, and they sure weren’t, and besides, why would we?

“If they signed a petition, would you sign one?” he persisted. John Benker was like flypaper. He would call me late at night, before caller-ID, and talk and talk. He wasn’t one to easily get off the phone, and I was too nice to just cut him off and hang up. John Benker was persistent, and I saw him more often as he stopped by his parents’ graves more often.

Finally, a few weeks later, he came to me and said, “Well, your brother and his son signed their petitions. Here’s yours!” I couldn’t believe it. Was he just as persistent with them, and were they just too nice to him? How did he ever talk them into signing their petitions, when I knew I could never have done that? I was stuck, and not wanting to go back on my promise, I filled out the application to join something I had no idea about.

Having served for a few terms on the local ambulance board, and some time with the Jaycees, I had stayed away from joining anything else. I saw the negative effect my father’s involvement with politics had on his business. Chairing the board of education, board of finance, town moderator, and everything else he joined, took him out of the house to “another meeting,” then another and another.

Pretty soon my brother and nephew and I met three men at the lodge for our “investigation.” It was pretty cut and dry as we all pretty much knew each other, or at least had knowledge of each other, except for this Englishman I had never seen before, then found his wife worked for my dentist. He mentioned that Masonry was a lifetime membership, and that to leave the fraternity should only be done through the “dimit” process, whatever that was, and not by failing to pay the annual dues. With this he cast a scornful glance at the wall and at someone who had left just that way. No, there’s honor involved here.

A couple of weeks went by and I received a post card announcing I had been balloted on favorably, and that I was “to present yourself at the lodge” to take the first degree of Masonry. How quaint. How demanding, like a summons.

When my co-worker was told of my appointment, he said he had just been to another degree at my lodge for someone who was taking his degrees ahead of me. I was surprised that he would come to a degree for someone he didn’t know, but he just smiled, and said I would enjoy Masonry.

The big night came and the three of us “presented” ourselves at the lodge. There were quite a few others there, all quite busy, seemingly with a lot to say to each other, and a few polite introductions. Generally, they were all older men wearing coats and ties.

We waited downstairs for a while, and then were led upstairs to a small room. We stood with our backs to another door which opened and a loud, clear, brusque voice told us in no uncertain terms what we were to do, “… as all Masons have done before you!”

When the door closed and I began to take my shoes off, I said to my brother and his son, “I don’t believe what you’ve got me into.” “Us?” they said, “We only signed our petition because you signed yours.”

Preparation room

The small preparation room was barely large enough for the three of us. The door to the right entered into the lodge room.

John Benker had fulfilled his personal mission. My co-worker was there. Once again, very soon, all of my family would be Masons.

 

Remember

I remember it like it was just last week. A warm June day, the sun just slipping into summer. My father had asked me to bring my family and meet him at “lodge.” He was excited about attaining fifty years as a Mason, and this was supposed to be some kind of big thing he wanted to share with us.

I hardly knew where the “lodge” was, and I was surprised to find it was that old, empty, and some said haunted, white stucco building, that I pedaled extra fast past when I was a boy.

This day the building was open and inviting. Cars were parked all over the yard and driveway. People, mostly men, were arriving, usually by car, but some were walking. Although my family lived only a couple of blocks away, my wife and seven year old son, drove. My father had to drive, too, but more because he was weak with the cancer he refused to acknowledge was beating him.

This was his big day, and he had had a lot of big days. My father was a joiner; Rotary, church, Elks, School Board, Board of Finance, you name it and he probably had joined it. I knew more about his activities in those other groups than I knew about the Masons. Not that it was secret, it was private.

Just as the building might have been haunted, and something you didn’t and couldn’t ask about, so were the Masons. I never saw my father in a tuxedo, but I knew when he wore the long, black, heavy overcoat, it was “lodge” night. I wouldn’t ask what “lodge” was, and I certainly wouldn’t ask my mother. She only ever told us what she wanted us to know, not what we might have wanted to ask about.

This June day was warm, and as the men walked up the stairs, women, children and family stayed back downstairs. Something was going on upstairs. I figured maybe they were arranging the furniture, setting up more chairs for us guests. While my wife sat in the lower hall and chatted with the others, I tended to my son. The front door of the lodge was open, which made it easier for him to play, going inside and out. Now, not too far down the sidewalk, don’t trip on the concrete steps, don’t hang on that railing, watch out for that man walking up the path.

There’s always confusion as to when summer starts. Some say on the solstice of June, others wait for the Fourth of July, and still others maintain Memorial Day. The secretary at my work even used to say it ended on July 4. But this day was special, because my father wanted us there.

He was so excited that after fifty years he wouldn’t have to pay dues anymore. I knew he was pretty tight with a dollar. When I went to work for him as a teenager and after working a year, getting better at the job, getting my license and explaining how I was deserving of a pay increase, he agreed. He said I had certainly proved myself over the past year, I had become important to the business, and he felt confident enough to count on me. He so inflated my ego that I couldn’t complain about the ten cent raise he gave me.

So to him, I could see that saving lodge dues could actually mean something. He would get something for nothing, and he knew a bargain when he saw it. He didn’t say he couldn’t afford to pay dues, or that the savings would affect his finances. No, he would get something for nothing.

We finally were invited upstairs into the lodge room. There were no special chairs set up for us. This was not a cozy room, but one with a high ceiling, important looking chairs around, and the peanut gallery for us guests. My father was wearing a white piece of cloth at his waist, in fact, everyone was. I remembered back to a funeral I went to, for who I later learned was the son of a Past Grand Master. Those men had worn similar apparel. They weren’t embarrassed to be dressed that way in front of strangers, and they were somehow proud.

I remembered my uncle had been a Past Grand Master and had died just four months earlier. I had helped his widow with the obituary. She told me everything he had belonged to as I wrote them down. She remembered all the initials and titles. I didn’t know you could belong to so many different groups, or why you would want to.

My aunt told me the “lodge” had visited her and asked if she wanted to have a Masonic funeral. She said she had been told it was a particularly painful, and sorrowful ceremony. She was a solid and proud woman who wanted to be stoic and keep her tears to herself, so she declined the invitation. For similar reasons, I, too, would decline having a Masonic funeral for my father.

The lodge room was getting hot and stuffy. Much longer and it would get pretty uncomfortable. My son wouldn’t be able to stand much of this. I remember father and another fellow being escorted to the “altar” in the center of the room.

“We now behold you before the altar of Freemasonry, that altar you were taught to approach fifty years ago, there to take an obligation designed to make a lasting impression on your mind, and to serve as an uplifting and ennobling influence on your life and character.” I wondered how much longer my father would be able to stand. He seemed to be using every ounce of strength to get through this, but you could tell he loved it.

Then he was helped, with the other fellow, to the front of the room and presented their certificates and pins. And that dues card. There were few times I ever saw him so happy. What could it mean? Was it more than no more dues? Didn’t he know, down deep, that his precarious health would take him away in 100 days, before another dues bill could ever be sent?

I believe that was when the mystery of Freemasonry was planted in me. Not when my uncle was a Grand Master, or the questions of “lodge” night were left unanswered. Not when I saw the lapel pin he always wore, nor the haunted building, or the strange initials in my uncle’s obituary.

That’s why the fifty year pin and the ceremony that celebrates those years of service means so much to me. Every brother who is presented with the pin and certificate, and the card, has that same smile my father had that warm June day. And as those brothers get closer and closer to fifty years, I’m rooting that they’ll make it, too. Proud to wear an apron in front of strangers. Proud to have stuck it out for fifty years. Proud to be a Freemason.

Remember John Lennon

Remember Harry Neilson

Remember Air

Attending the 50 year pin presentation for my father were, from left, MW Roland Gardner, Grand Master; the woman my father married after my mother died; my father, WB William B. LaPlace; my cousin who raised my father, WB Gilbert L. Mather; fifty year recipient Bro. Andy Anderson; his wife, Edith; and then RW Samuel B. Walker, Grand Junior Deacon.

Leave My Kitten Alone

So. I haven’t been too busy here, and maybe you haven’t noticed. At least, no one has said “Where’ve you been?” But that’s OK, I don’t mind. I’m really typing for my own amusement.

I changed my header photo to show another relaxing place, a field at the end of my driveway, where I take a chair, a book, and my cat. I call the picture, “How I spent my summer vacation.”

It’s been nearly a year since my last post, and most readers have dropped off, and that’s OK, but coming up on my “Big Day,” I thought I would restart my blog.

Perhaps the biggest reason I’ve halted blogging is my over-reliance, and over indulgence of the newest member of my life, my cat Frankie. We rescued him about a year ago from “Forgotten Felines” in Clinton. We went there, with an appointment, intending to adopt a cat to enter our lives. We have always been “cat people” but we haven’t had a cat since around 1996. We had three cats up til then and slowly, over about 18 years, had to put them all down.

That had been a terrible blow. We were determined not to be in that kind of position again, and we weren’t. And we continued our lives alone, living vicariously through our son, and getting on with our solitary lives.

But in October of last year, we decided to adopt a poor forgotten feline. Yes, we made an appointment with “Forgotten Felines,” and saw those poor unfortunate, homeless and unwanted felines that had grown up without us. Most were a sorry group, resigned to their lot in life. We liked some of them. We even thought we had settled on one or two who could be with us. We said we wanted a “good mouser,” one who could fend for himself; an independent kind of guy. But our guide, a nice woman, kept saying, “You need to see Frankie.” We had already specified we wouldn’t have any other cats in the house, and we didn’t have any kids either, and that was one of the requirements for adopting Frankie. And when we finally met Frankie, after three rooms of possibilities; a seemingly friendly, independent, individualistic cat, came up to us, with his tail in the air, and welcomed us to his world. There was a confidence and almost a swagger in his walk.

Just then, another cat came up to him, and, with a growl and a swipe, Frankie adroitly sent him away. When the woman picked him up, turned him over, patted his stomach, then passed him to Debbi, and then to me, I knew this was our cat. “Oh, you have to see Frankie,” turned out to be the right thing for us.

So we got him home and he hid. I spent a couple of hours with him while he was hiding in our TV room. Nothing would make him come out from behind a sofa. Then Debbi came in, found him, picked him up and held him, and ever since he’s been one of us. He has ruled our lives, and we’ve loved every moment.

Why I can’t get my work done.

He’s with us everywhere we’ve gone in the house, and regulates our lives, wherever we are.

Here’s the proud hunter with his prey. Of course he didn’t want to eat it, just play, kind of a “catch and release” cat.

 

 

 

 

 

We had to promise not to de-claw him, or let him loose outside. He was to be an indoor cat. but we found a harness to “walk” him outside, and with enough “treats” he acclimated to the leash. Now we walk him for a couple of hours a day. He understands the limits we put on him, and we let him have fun outside. He’s hunted and caught several chipmunks, a mole, a snake, a bunny, and a small bird.

 

 

A Report on Frankie at Captain Kitts (click to see his latest report)

Captain Kitts cat boarding has been a blessing. We see a video of Frankie within a couple of days of when we leave him there. There are a variety of stations we can leave him at, with a choice of windows; a view of aquariums or bird cages, and a variety of personal exercises. It gives us peace of mind. It also makes it easier to have him enter the cat carrier because he knows it is a signal he’s going to see Val and Tim. He’s happy to see us when we get home, and he obviously has a great time while he’s there.

So Frankie is taken care of, but what of us? We’ve been traveling. We’ve been to the Grand Lodges of Delaware and North Carolina, and soon to attend the Grand Lodges of Virginia and Maryland. Chatting with Grand Masters, Deputies and other officers lets us trade experiences between Grand Jurisdictions.

It’s nice to come home come home to Frankie and to have him keep me company if I’m here during the day; I can always give him a treat, then do the next most important thing.

You Better Leave My Kitten Alone.”

Birthday

Something happened last night that wasn’t totally unexpected, but certainly ugly and sad. A Senior Warden was not elected Master. The first ballot was tied at 11 for him and 11 for a Past Master from two years ago, with one abstention, and two votes for others. The second ballot brought a plurality of more than one vote. Evidently, there has been personal animosity from some brothers against the Senior Warden for the past couple of years. But nobody did anything except lie in wait. No whisper of good council. No warning of approaching danger.

I don’t mind the officers of a lodge getting together to decide how to fill vacancies, or deal with progression as long as it doesn’t create an atmosphere of politicking and campaigning. I also don’t mind a group of Past Masters taking an officer aside and whispering good council, or warning him he may not have the support of the lodge.

What I do mind is secretly “stacking the deck” for the election of someone or the defeat of someone. It breeds distrust and disharmony and reveals that a clique actually “runs” the lodge, and, boy, you better not get on their bad side.

I had been invited to be Installing Marshal at the Senior Warden’s installation after his anticipated election, but now I would have to stand and proclaim the elected Master to be a “good man and true.” While I doubt the elected Master was the ringleader last night, he is the public face on the whole thing, and obviously in on the cabal.

So, what do you think I should do, if anything? I could decline to participate in the installation as a show of disappointment. I could do nothing. I could go and lecture the lodge. I guess I could bring someone up on charges. I’ve seen this sort of un-Masonic thing tear a lodge apart. It also happened in another lodge, recently, that a Past Master offered his services since a Senior Warden didn’t want to progress. It also happened when an expected new Secretary was defeated because a bunch of brothers, who hadn’t been seen in lodge in years, came and voted one of their pals in.

As I say, it wasn’t totally unexpected so maybe I should have done something before the election. I had spoken a year ago with an influential member of the lodge who assured me everything was under control. It’s too late now.

I’ve seen everything at annual meetings. I’ve seen brothers refuse to serve when elected, and then castigated by those who didn’t help them when they served before. Why would they want to serve with no help. Our annual meeting this year was very enjoyable because conflicts and grudges didn’t exist.

And today was the defeated Senior Warden’s birthday.

Old Brown Shoe

OMG. Oh — My — God!
When I became an officer at Trinity-Mt. Olive, I obviously had to get a tuxedo, as all the officers wore tuxes during degrees. Since I was Junior Deacon in 1995, that meant I also had to buy a tuxedo. I remember I bought a new one, with shawl collar, at Pietro’s in Old Saybrook. I don’t think it was a used one, but I looked pretty spiffy.

I bought my shoes when I became a District Deputy in April, 2000. The “book” said they had to be tied and laced black shoes. That eliminated the usual loafers I might wear for events that demanded something nicer than sneakers (athletic shoes to you young guys). Going through a new store, Nordstrom’s, in the West Hartford mall, and just before we exited, I decided to try on a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes. Yeah, they laced up, had a smooth toe, and were very, very, black. The moment I put them on I knew I had to have them. They fit like they knew me, better than a glove. They were expensive, and I wasn’t going to buy anything that cost that much without “permission” from Debbi. She had the final say, and she bought the shoes for me.

I know how many shoes she owns, and I know how much I love them. I am a connoisseur of women’s shoes. No, I don’t have a fetish. Come on, it’s nothing like that, but I can look at a pair of women’s shoes and tell you the highlights, low points; everything about whether they’re too high a heel, too blocky, whether they make a foot and calf look slimming, whether the open toe is too wide, whatever. I know women’s shoes. I have an eye for women’s shoes. Of course, that’s ladies shoes. I know nothing about a man’s shoe.

So putting on a pair of these shoes that fit the first time kind of stunned me. Maybe I was just having a foot numbing day. I was sure I would be disappointed when I put them on again. And since they weren’t the kind of shoe anyone would just slip on the first time they had to go outside, I would have to wait for the next “special occasion.”

Well, they never felt better, then, or anytime I have ever worn them since. And I’ve worn them a lot, being a lodge officer, or a District Deputy, and then a Grand Lodge officer. I learned to polish them to a “spit” shine. I talked a lot with former Marine Mike who knew how to get that quick shine, and how to make up a good base of polish. I took care of them; wiped off the mud, dirt, and snow. These were shoes I treasured, and not only because they felt great to wear, but also because they looked great. I would see others with all kinds of loafers, and slip ons; one even with a pair of black Reeboks. Oh, come on, man, you’re wearing a tuxedo!

I empathized with a recent Past Grand whose feet were killing him while he broke in his new Bostonians. Yeah, I tried those on one time and they killed me, too. While you’re hobbling around with aching feet what would you spend for some relief, and how often?

So the years went by, all the polishing, the cleaning, usually taking meticulous care of them, sometimes throwing them in the closet not knowing when I would wear them again. And then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a hole in the sole of one of the shoes. Why does one shoe wear out before another? Good question for Tom, but it had happened. I was crushed. What was I going to do. these shoes had been with me like my best friend. Replacing the shoes with the same brand seemed like a prohibitive expense. And the thought of Bostonians and months of agony was not an option.

But I remembered that Allen Edmonds had a policy and a service to repair and replace worn shoes. I went to their website, downloaded a form, printed a shipping label, packed up the shoes, and sent them off. I just got an email receipt that they would be returned, good as new, in a few weeks. Oh, Allen Edmonds, you made my day.

Did you see that? That’s my shoe!

In the meantime, you’ll see me wear my cheap loafers. You might sneer at my crassness. You’ll see they don’t shine well. The wrinkles in the leather are obvious. But you just wait. In a few weeks I’ll be the one who’s sneering, and you’ll be the one who will be dreading when they have to buy another pair of shoes, and when they’ll have to be broken in again. Oh, your poor feet. Treat yourself!

As a follow up, here’s a message I received today:

Now let me see. what lodge can I visit next Wednesday?