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A BRIEF HISTORY OF AURORA GRATA-DAY STAR LODGE No. 647

R:.W:. Alfonso Serrano

  If you look upon the newest Lodge logo you will see the unfinished pyramid is surrounded by the names of seven Lodges which had merged together to form the Lodge presently known as Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No. 647. They are Mistletoe, Aurora Grata, May Flower Sanctorum. Kedron and Old Glory. This paper is a brief sketch of their individual histories which I wrote so that the Brethren of the Lodge may be informed as to how our present Lodge came into existence and as a reminiscence for our older members.

  Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No. 647 is mainly comprised of three Lodges, Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756, Day Star Lodge No. 798 and Old Glory Lodge No. 647. It is under the banner of Old Glory Lodge that Mistletoe No. 647, Kedron No. 803, Sanctorum No. 747 and Mayflower No. 961 hail. In presenting their individual histories I will begin with the oldest Lodge and work my way forward.

MISTLETOE LODGE NO. 647

  On February 20, 1867 Mistletoe Lodge received dispensation granted by the M:.W:. Robert D. Holmes whose petition was recommended by Altair Lodge No. 601. The first Communication was held on February 23, 1867 in the Montaulk Lodge rooms, 14 Court Street, Brooklyn, New York. The Officers were as follows:

M:.W:. Joseph D. Evans...Master

Charles W. Newton... Senior Warden

Samuel G. Thayer...Junior Warden

Joel B. Burnett...Treasurer

Henry T. Bragg...Secretary

William A. Evans...Senior Deacon

Abraham Simpson...Junior Deacon

Henry A. Richey...Sr. Master of Ceremony

William B. Whitaker...Junior Master of Ceremony

William W. Reade...Senior Steward

Carmon E. Anderson...Junior Steward

 

  It is interesting to note that during his term as Grand Master M:.W:. Joseph D. Evans put into effect one of the most important changes in New York Masonry by introducing the Office of District Deputy Grand Master into the Offices of Grand Lodge appointments. Also it is noteworthy to note that Brother Evans, at the funeral service of the distinguished Statesman and Brother Henry Clay delivered an able and eloquent address, which was afterward printed in pamphlet form.

  Some other notable Brothers of Mistletoe Lodge No. 647 are Brother Thomas G. Singleton, a member for 58 years of which he served as Secretary for 51 years. Another Brother is Wallace E. Caldwell raised in Mistletoe Lodge in 1913. He affiliated with University Lodge No. 408, A.F.& A.M. of North Carolina after being appointed Associate Professor of Ancient History at the University of North Carolina. Brother Caldwell went on to become Grand Master of Masons in the State of North Carolina in 1950. Another noteworthy Brother was Charles A. Shaw, who was a one-man commissioner for the State of New York running the Monument Commission till the age of 91. He traveled around the country erecting monuments to the boys in blue who went from New York to save the Union. Some of his Monuments have been erected on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Antietam, Chattanooga, and Key West, Florida. One of his plaques is featured in the book "The Craft and its Symbols", on the next to last page shows a plaque dedicated to the 66th New York Regiment. In the banner above the two soldiers is found the inscription "Peace and Unity". A closer look will reveal that the letter "A" in the word "Peace" is a Masonic square and Compasses. Mistletoe, the plant, was held in great veneration by the druids and is associated with joy and gladness. The name was selected by its first Master, M:.W:. Joseph A. Evans.

SANCTORUM LODGE No. 747

  The next Lodge to be constituted was Sanctorum Lodge No. 747 who received dispensation on February 10, 1874 from M:.W:. Grand Master, Christopher G. Fox. This was all that I could find in our Lodges records for Sanctorum Lodge No. 747

AURORA GRATA LODGE No. 756

  The next Lodge to be organized was Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756 who was granted dispensation on October 17, 1874 the following text was taken from its 1949 membership roster:

"Aurora is defined as the rising light of the morning; the goddess of the morning, or twilight defied by fancy. The poets represented her as rising out of the ocean in a chariot, with rosy fingers dripping with gentle dew. The founders of this Lodge gave it the name Aurora Grata, the great light, the gracious dawn. Judging from the brilliant Masonic Luminaries that compose it, the poetical allegory, defining Aurora, was fitting and appropriate".

  The first meeting for the organization of the Lodge was held in Aurora Grata Lodge of Perfection A.A.S.R., at 13 Court Street, Brooklyn, New York. Dispensation was granted by M:.W:. Elwood E. Thorne, Grand Master, on January 22, 1875 afterward the Lodge met for the first time in the Aurora Grata Cathedral.

  On June 14, 1875, after the Grand Session was held by Grand Lodge a charter was granted to Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756, which reads:

"We the Grand Lodge of the most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, in ample form assembled, according to the old constitutions, regularly and solemnly established under the auspices of Prince Edwin, at the City of York, in Great Britain, in the year of Masonry, 4926,

The M:.W:. Elwood E. Thorne, Grand Master

The R:.W:. James W. Huestead, Deputy Grand Master

The R:.W:. Jesse B. Anthony, Senior Grand Warden

The R:.W:. Levi M. Gano, Junior Grand Warden

Do, by presents appoint, authorize, and empower our Worthy Brother George W. Close, to be master; our Worthy Brother, Daniel Sickels, to be the Senior Warden; our Worthy brother William H. Martin to be the Junior Warden, of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, to be, by virtue hereof, constituted, formed, and held in Brooklyn, Kings County, which shall be distinguished by the name or style of Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756, and said Master and Wardens, and their successors in office, are hereby respectively authorized and directed , by and with the consent and assistance of a majority of the members of said Lodge, duly summoned and present upon such occasions, to elect and install the officers of the said Lodge as vacancies happen, in manner and form as is, or may be prescribed by the constitution of this Grand Lodge. And further, the said Lodge is hereby invested with full power and authority to assemble upon proper and lawful occasions, to make Masons, and to admit members, as also to do and perform all and every such acts and things appertaining to the craft as have been and ought be done, for the honor and advantage thereof; conforming in all their proceedings to the constitution of this Grand Lodge, otherwise this warrant, and the powers thereby granted, to cease and be of no further effect. Given under our hands, and the seal of our Grand Lodge, at the City of New York, in the United State s of America, this fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy five.

Signed

R:.W:. James M. Austin

Grand Secretary

Registered in the book of the Grand Lodge, page 152."

 

The Meaning of Aurora Grata

(Taken from the 1949 membership roster)

  Aurora Grata, gracious dawn. The dawn of the day dreamed by Andrew Michael Ramsey in an address delivered March 21, 1737, before a general assemblage of Freemasons in France. He saw in his vision the gracious dawn, the Aurora Grata, "when all men of enlightened minds shall be united in Freemasonry, when the interests of the fraternity shall become those of the whole human race, when the subjects of all kingdoms shall learn to cherish one another without renouncing their country". That gracious dawn, that Aurora Grata, "when all men shall unite in freemasonry to make minds and hearts better, by which a new people shall be created which, though composed of many nations shall cement them into one brotherhood by ties of virtue and science". That gracious dawn that Aurora Grata, "when all men shall embrace the obligations placed upon them by Freemasonry to protect their fellow men by their authority, to enlighten them by their knowledge, to edify them by their virtues, to succor them in their necessities, to sacrifice all personal resentment, and to strive after all things that may contribute to the peace and unity of society". So we have the meaning of Aurora Grata, Gracious Dawn.

  Some notable members of Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756 are, brother and Dr. Charles D. Pabst, noted dermatologist, who is listed in the four volume set "10,000 famous Freemasons" and in the book "Celebrating 200 years of Freemasonry".  Also M:.W:. Raymond Clark Ellis who ascended to become Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York 1954 - 1956.

DAY STAR LODGE NO. 798

  Following Aurora Grata Lodge came Day Star Lodge No. 798, the following text is taken from the history of Day Star Lodge, Golden Jubilee anniversary 1890 - 1940.

In 1889, Edward P. Daly a leading real estate dealer began a movement which resulted in the birth of Day Star Lodge No. 798. Dispensation was granted on July 31, 1889 and her charter was instituted on June 25, 1890. In going over the history of Day Star Lodge its interesting to note that the Lodge became the owners of Day Star Hall, located on the corner of 54th Street and Third Avenue. They sold it in 1906 for a net return of $13,000.00, which they invested in guaranteed interest-bearing securities. Also in its history is note of a W:. William A. Stewart, of Orion Lodge who bequeathed the sum of $110,000.00 toward the building of a new temple in Brooklyn. This sum enabled the building committee to purchase the land upon which the Temple was finally built. That temple was the one situated at the corners of Claremont and Lafayette.

   Also, the Past masters jewel, which is handed down from one Master to the next, descends from Day Star Lodge. It belonged to W:. Charles A. Freed and a summary of his year is as follows:

"First War Year (WWI) Master presented to Lodge a service flag, with a star thereon for each member in the country's military service (32); Honor Roll of members and sons in army and navy ordered printed and sent with each meeting notice; donation of $350.00 to Red Cross, it being determined that for the duration of war all expenditures ordinarily made for social affairs should go to the Red Cross; purchase of $500.00 Liberty Loan Bond; bibles and Grand Lodge certificates ordered sent to members in U.S. Military service; $100.00 donated to Norwegian Hospital; $1,000.00 donated to grand Lodge War relief fund; dues of members in Country's service ordered paid by lodge; approval for home on Long Island for children leaving Utica Home; contributions to Masonic Free Employment Bureau and Third District School of Instruction; purchased $90.00 for tickets for Masonic ball at 23rd Regimental Armory on February 21, X-Mas gifts to members in U.S. Military and to widows of Lodge members; death of brother Mari A. Cumming; service at St. Andrew's Church, anniversary of foundation of the Grand Lodge of England; Master attended visit, initiates, 16; membership 379

The ORIGIN OF THE NAME DAYSTAR

Information taken from the 50TH Jubilee Anniversary

  To those whose inquiring minds might wonder how our Lodge came by its name, we would ask them to turn to the second epistle of St. Peter, 1st Chapter, 19th verse, where you would find the following; "We have also a more sure word of prophesy whereunto ye do well to take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the Daystar arise in your hearts". What name would be more appropriate for a Masonic Lodge? What language could clearly define the purpose of masonry? Would it be amiss for us to make sure that daystar has arisen in our hearts? To what higher purpose could we dedicate our membership in our Lodge?

  It is curious that the present name of the Lodge, Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge, as it is makes a sort of poetic sense. Aurora Grata, the gracious dawn of the new day, which opens the way for the light, which shines in a dark place until the dawn of day for the Day Star to arise

KEDRON LODGE NO. 803

  The next lodge to receive dispensation was Kedron Lodge No. 803 on December 29, 1891 and was warranted on June 9, 1892. I also found very little information on this Lodge except that its first Master was W:. Anson L. Squires, and That Kedron Lodge began building its temple in April 1916. This Temple is located on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. It is now a Born Again Christian Church. If you should pass by it you will notice that the square and Compasses on the corner stone have been chipped away at as if someone was trying to obliterate them but they were not successful.

MAYFLOWER LODGE No 961

  The last of the original Lodges to receive dispensation was Mayflower Lodge No. 961, they were instituted on May 16, 1919, and constituted on May 14, 1920, and incorporated on January 14, 1944. The Lodge was named for the month in which it was instituted as well as the mayflower, which is the trailing arbutus.

  26 brothers residing in Brooklyn wanted to form a new Lodge. Brother Adrian C. Johnston called a meeting and a request for dispensation was prepared. They obtained permission from R:.W:. George L. Allin, District Deputy Grand Master of the 3rd Kings District, to obtain permission from the other Lodges in the district to form a Lodge to be known as Mayflower Lodge. With the consent of the District it was the first Lodge whose credential were considered by the Grand Lodge Committee on charters that year. It was also the 1st Lodge constituted by the newly elected Grand Master, M:.W:. William S. Farmer, and it was the 1st Lodge admitted to the newly formed 3rd kings Masonic District of Kings, with W:. Adrian C. Johnston as its Master.

  Mayflower Lodge was the only Lodge to hold a regular meeting at the Masonic Brotherhood center at the new York World's fair, in fresh Meadows, new York on September 10, 1965. At his meeting, M:.W:. Clarence J. henry was presented Honorary Membership in mayflower Lodge. On the meeting notice for that evening I realized that our own R:.W:. John A. Tenentes was the Senior Warden of Mayflower Lodge. When I spoke to him about the event he told me that he as proxy for the Worshipful master opened the Lodge at the Masonic brotherhood center while the Master was hosting a dinner for the guest of honor.

Mayflower Lodge had a brother who rose to the position of Grand Senior Deacon, R:.W:. Brother Howard Kessler, and it also had a brother by the name of Sydney Grant, who was a general in the national Guard, who served in World War I. He entered the military service in 1882 with the old 13th regiment, New York national Guard. He passed away in June of 1934. On June 19t, 1934 a Masonic Service was conducted by Mayflower Lodge with M:.W:. Frank S. Smith, Grand Master officiating.

  On December 12, 1956, Aurora Grata Lodge No. 756 and Day Star Lodge No. 798 merged to form Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No. 756. Aurora Grata Lodge left the Aurora Grata cathedral and moved all of its belongings to the Bay Ridge Temple at 256 Bay Ridge Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. Four years later M:.W:. Gary A. Henningsen was initiated into Aurora Grata-Daystar Lodge No. 756 and in 1993 became Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York following the death of Grand Master Sheldon K. Blank. In the 1960's and 1970's there were merges between Kedron, Mayflower and Mistletoe Lodges which resulted in the formation of Old Glory Lodge No. 647.

  On December 14 1988, Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No. 756 and Old Glory Lodge No. 647 were merged and the Grand Lodge of New York granted a charter. The new name of the Lodge being Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge No. 647 with its charter members as follows; Master, Ilker Ademirken, Senior Warden, John Tenentes, And Junior Warden Gary R. Solberg. My brothers the name Aurora Grata-Day Star is probably one of the most unique names ever given to a Lodge and I as well as all of the present membership are extremely proud to be ranked as it's Brethren.

 

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