Iowa Freemasonry is a personal journal of a Freemason in central Iowa. This blog documents my Masonic research interests, experiences, and reflections. Welcome!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Knock, knock, knock

White bronze tombstones were quite popular around the turn of the twentieth century. These stones were actually sand cast zinc, not bronze, but the white bronze label stuck. The “stones” are hollow and easily identified, either by color or by simply knocking on them: you’ll hear a metallic, hollow sound.

Most of these markers have a plate which can be removed with a screwdriver to reveal their hollow interior; there are anecdotal reports that bootleggers used these hollow markers as a drop. The customer would leave cash inside the stone and the bootlegger would visit, in the middle of the night of course, and leave the booze.

I ran across a white bronze tombstone in the Polk City Cemetery. The tombstone marks the grave of G.E. Merrill, a Past Master of Operative Lodge #308 in Polk City. I didn’t check inside, but I did knock, more than once.

Living History Farm's Dr. Armstrong: Freemason from Polk City

Dr. George Armstrong was one of Polk City’s earliest doctors and also a Freemason. Dr. Armstrong traveled to Iowa from Ohio beginning his Polk City practice in 1857. He owned property at the corner of Broadway and Summer street; current residents believe his office was located there. In 1979, Dr. Armstrong’s office was donated to Living History Farms. The office is located on the main street of Walnut Hill, the recreated town at Living History farms. Dr. Armstrong is buried in Polk City Cemetery.
(Currie, Roxana. Polk City's Early History Before 1900. Iowa City: Camp Pope Publishing, 2000.)

Master Craftsman II is DONE!

(photo courtesy of Scottish Rite)

Master Craftsman II is done! I received an email this past week from the Scottish Rite that my final Master Craftsman II quiz has been scored. It’s been a long but enjoyable process of reading, writing, and researching. Throughout the course, I used the Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide as well as A Bridge to Light. In addition, I spent quite a bit of time reading Morals & Dogma. My paperback copy of Hutchens’ Bridge to Light is showing considerable wear and De Hoyos’ hardcover Monitor & Guide actually looks like its been read: I can guarantee that it has! Morals & Dogma, which probably should show the most wear, is on my iPad!

I started the course over a year ago. After receiving the first quiz, I set the program materials aside for about six months. Other activities took precedence and a few weeks of delay turned into a few months. What finally motivated me was the Des Moines Scottish Rite’s one-day summer reunion last year. After this slow start, I made good progress:
- on average, it took 10.5 days to complete each quiz
- quiz 5 (15° - 18°) took the longest at 29 days
- quiz 2 (6°- 8°) took the least time at 2 days
- the Scottish Rite averaged 4 days turnaround time in scoring each quiz
(These numbers do not include my delay at the beginning of the course)

I was impressed with the staff at the Scottish Rite in D.C. They scored my quizzes and put the next one in the mail within a day or two. The only time there was a significantly longer delay was over Christmas. As a classroom teacher responsible for grading tests and essays of over 160 students, I was impressed with their turnaround time!