Author Archives: Junior Warden

From the Archives: Alexandria-Lodge 22 Plans George Washington’s Funeral

From the Archives is a recurring series that highlights Alexandria-Washington’s archives and museum. Visitors are welcome to visit the museum during the memorial’s operating hours.

Written by Chris Ruli and Aaron Habibipour

December 16 marks the 223rd anniversary of Alexandria Lodge’s meeting to announce the death of George Washington and plan for his funeral service. The lodge’s museum and archives is fortunate enough to have the original meeting minutes from the occasion.

Dr. Elisha Dick, the lodge’s Master, called for an Emergency meeting “for the purpose of taking into consideration and adopting certain measures relative to the burial of our late worthy Brother General George Washington.” Thirty-eight members of the lodge attended the meeting along with two visitors – Charles Lesebre of Fredericksburg Lodge 4 of Virginia, Washington’s mother lodge, and James Bacon of Philadelphia Lodge 7, Pennsylvania. In fact, the meeting became so noteworthy that the lodge’s secretary David Wilson Scott, embedded a note directly onto the center of the page for future reference: “Funeral Lodge called for the burial of Gen. G. Washington, 1st Master of this lodge No. 22.

Dick opened the meeting and “delivered a suitable address to the brethren on the occasion.” They then proceeded to discuss funeral arrangements with Alexandria Brooke Lodge 47, the other Masonic lodge that met in Alexandria at the time.

“No. 47 being convened on the occasion a committee  consisting of Bros Peterkin and Neale were appointed  to wait on them and inform them that No 22 were ready to receive their committee and jointly with them to adopt such measures as might appear most proper for carrying into effect the purposes for which our lodges were convened – a committee from lodge no 47 consisting of bro’s Jones and Bouge came in and agreed with lodge no 22 upon the manner in which the funeral should be conducted and then withdrew.”

The lodge then discussed plans for their upcoming St. John’s Day, which traditionally served as the lodge’s installation of officers. “Ordered that Bro’s Deneale, Ramsay, and Jamisson be appointed a committee to wait on Bro Davis and request him to deliver a discourse on St John’s Day and in case he should be engaged to preach a funeral sermon they are requested to wait on Bro Maffitt and request him to deliver a discourse on that day.”  

Dick then ordered that Peter Colton “wait on the Federal City Lodge and invite them to join in the funeral procession on Wednesday at Mount Vernon  at 12 O’clock if fair or on Thursday at the same hour and that the lodge pay him his expenses for going to and returning from the city.” The lodge referenced here is Federal Lodge 1 of the District of Columbia, then originally chartered as Federal Lodge 15 of Maryland, which participated in the US Capitol cornerstone ceremony together with Alexandria-Lodge and George Washington in September 1793.

The minutes conclude with orders that the deacons prepare the lodge’s equipment and “furnish spermaceti candles” for the funeral ceremony. Alexander McCormick, Federal Lodge’s Master, held one of the candles during the ceremony and kept it as his personal memento. The candle is now on display in the GWMNM’s Washington museum. The Secretary was also ordered to “take the case in which the [lodge’s] charter is deposited and have it repaired and new guilted in time for the procession the expense of which the lodge will pay.” The lodge concluded their business that night around 9 o’clock and gathered two days later at Mount Vernon to perform their solemn duty in Masonic tradition.

The record of the December 16th meeting provides valuable insights into the preparations made by Alexandria-Washington Lodge and other local lodges to prepare for Washington’s funeral. Due to the nature of their business, the meeting became one of most well attended and brethren seemed eager to lend their support or assistance in planning. This not only speaks to Washington’s legacy as a public figure but as a trusty and loyal brother.


From the Archives: AW22’s First Bylaws

From the Archives is a recurring series that highlights Alexandria-Washington’s archives and museum. Visitors are welcome to visit the museum during the memorial’s operating hours.

Alexandria-Washington Lodge, No. 22’s archives contain over 4,000 items related to the history of Freemasonry in Alexandria, Virginia, George Washington, and American history. One of the most important items in our collection is the lodge’s meeting ledgers, which begin in February 1783, during the lodge’s formation, and span well into the twenty-first century. The first set of rules governing the lodge, or bylaws, appears in the earliest meeting ledger. Let’s take a brief look back at the lodge’s first set of rules to better understand how early members conducted their activities and engaged with other Freemasons during this early period of American history.

In early 1783, Freemasons from Alexandria petitioned the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for a charter to establish a lodge in their town. Their request was granted on February 3 of that same year and they received a charter to work as Alexandria Lodge No. 39. To form a new lodge the members were required to draft up a set of bylaws, which were written into the secretary’s meeting ledger for reference. The bylaws contained twenty-one numbered articles that outlined lodge governance, fees, and membership duties. As the document’s preamble notes, the bylaws were intended “to prevent feuds, controversies, and illegal debates, and to promote the harmony and good order of the lodge.”

Bylaws Preamble

Bylaws Preamble

The first two articles determined the lodge’s meeting date and time. Members met “regularly on the Friday after the third Monday” each month. Evening meetings began promptly at 7 o’clock between March and September and 6 from October and February to account for daylight savings. Meetings are now scheduled for the second Thursday of each month.

Article three detailed the tiler’s duties. In addition to his responsibilities while a lodge is in session, the tiler distributed meeting notices and other correspondence around town. This duty often entrusted him with sensitive and important information concerning lodge affairs. While not explicitly mentioned in the bylaws, tilers often maintained the lodge’s meeting room, prepared refreshments, and ensured the space had enough firewood for winter meetings. Today, most of our communications are performed electronically through email, social media, and membership databases.

Article four required members to attend all meetings unless they provided an acceptable excuse. Common excuses included illness and travel. Members were fined 1 shilling, about $4-$5, for each unexcused absence, which the secretary tracked in his ledger. Members were required to pay any outstanding debts prior to each St John’s day in June and December. Fines were eventually phased out by the early nineteenth century.

Article seven prohibited members from “raising angry disputes” with each other. Fines increased in severity after multiple offenses. The first offense resulted in a vocal reprimand by the master and the second resulted in a 5 shilling fine. The fine doubled to ten shillings for the third instance and the offender was “solemnly excluded” from the meeting for the night and would only be admitted again after a formal apology. Similar fines were levied for inappropriate language (article eight) and improper dress (article nine).

Article eleven covered fees and regular payments owed to the lodge. Each member was required to pay 1 shilling each month towards the lodge’s operations, which they referred to in the bylaws as “the Fund.” The Secretary collected all monies during each meeting and transferred over to the Treasurer for his deposit. Prior to the Coinage Act of 1793, which officially designated the dollar as the national currency, states issued their own currency along with foreign currencies that remained in circulation. Therefore, the lodge’s affairs were often conducted in British and colonial state issued pounds, shillings, and dollars. Today, masons can remit their annual dues payment through electronic means, which do not require their attendance to meetings.

Article 11 Describes Fees Owed to the Lodge.

New membership is covered in article sixteen. Petitions required a single member to propose a candidate for membership. The lodge assigned two other members to “make inquiry into the merits, character, and circumstances of the candidate and report the succeeding lodge night.” Furthermore, the proposer paid the petition fee. “The brother who proposes (the candidate) shall at the same time deposit one dollar of his money (along with the petition) to ensure (the candidate’s) attendance.” This ensured that both the proposing member and candidate were serious with their intentions and financially invested in the process. Once approved, the candidate paid his initiation fee and the tiler received the petition fee – perhaps as regular payment for his duties in and outside of lodge. The candidate’s fee was returned if the lodge rejected his candidacy. The bylaws also note that if the lodge elected the candidate for membership but he later declined to proceed, the tiler would keep the dollar from the proposing brother. Today, candidates pay the petition and degree conferral fees.

Candidates paid four pounds and sixteen shillings to receive the three degrees of Freemasonry, which equates to around $835.00 in 2022, adjusted for inflation. That said, early salaries were much lower than today. A Virginia school teacher, for example, garnered around sixty to seventy pounds each year. If he sought membership to the lodge, he would spend 6-7 percent of his annual income for his initiation. Most citizens were self-employed and many worked as farmers, which garnered less than sixty pounds each year. Thus, the lodge’s membership was effectively composed of men from Alexandria’s upper-middle to upper class

Article 16 Covered the Petition Process.

Other articles covered lodge voting procedures, committee membership, and duties related to the Grand Lodge. The document ends with a list of signatures by the lodge’s earliest members, who by custom signed the book to affirm that they abide by the lodge’s rules. Articles were regularly updated, dropped, and added throughout the lodge’s history to adapt to changes in the fraternity, society, and the economy.

What do the first bylaws tell us about Alexandria lodge and Freemasonry? First, the lodge’s membership mostly consisted of upper-middle to upper class Alexandrians. Second, they took their membership seriously and imposed

fees and penalties for those who violated their obligations. Members were expected to attend each meeting, dress appropriately, and find ways to resolve conflict without devolving into anger or slander. Third, proposing a new candidate for membership required a financial commitment from the proposing brother. This ensured that both parties were serious about who would join the lodge. Fourth, members were obligated to invest into the lodge regularly, to ensure the lodge had funds to cover its expenses and distribute charity to deserving brethren and their families. These founding rules and principles enabled the lodge to proposer well into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Brother Chris Ruli is a masonic researcher and historian who focuses on the history of Freemasonry. He is a member of Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22, Virginia and Federal Lodge 1 of Washington, D.C.


Warden’s Night

by David Bella, Senior Warden

From an early age, George Washington recognized the importance of the American South and American West. He knew that they were new frontiers with unlimited possibilities.  

At the age of sixteen, he was invited to survey the western Virginia lands owned by Thomas, Lord Fairfax. This first exposure sparked a lifelong intertwinement with the lands that lay to Washington’s west. Washington’s first fame came from his ill fated attempt to push the French out of the Ohio River Valley at the age of twenty-one. Upon his return, the detailed notes he took in his journal were published in several newspapers which made him a household name in the colonies as well as in political circles in England. At the time of his death, he owned over forty thousand acres in the outer western edges of European settler influence. 

Washington also had significant experience with the American South. He was a southerner by birth. The only foreign country he visited was a journey south to Barbados in hopes of curing his brother’s tuberculosis. Washington marched into southern Virginia to defeat the British at Yorktown in 1781. And in 1791 he visited the southern states as our first President, going as far south as Savannah before heading back to Philadelphia. 

Wardens’ Night is upon us: it is a time for the lodge to get to know their Wardens a little better. I am so honored and flattered to be asked by Worshipful Deni to sit in the East and I know that Brother Allen is equally honored and flattered to sit in the West at our wonderful lodge. In our conversations throughout the years, a dominant theme has always been our reverence for our dearest brother, George Washington, and the legacy he has given to our lodge.  

Brother Allen and I both have significant ties to the cardinal directions we represent. I was born in Wasington state, our Western most lower forty-eight state. He was born in Alabama. We both hail from a state west of Virginia, growing up on opposite ends of Jackson County, Mississippi, which is one of the southernmost counties in the Deep South.   

I would like to thank the Worshipful Master for allowing the officers to “move up” at Wardens’ Night, and I’ll speak for brother Allen and the other officers in saying that we are all looking forward to seeing you on the third.

A Call to Charity: Preparing the Lodge for February 2023 and Beyond

By Wor. Nikola N. Nikolov, PM, Foundation Board Chairman

In this blog, our Senior Warden Bro. David Bella, has presented a strong argument for your participation in Lodge and supporting our efforts for 2023. I echo his sentiment. Alexandria – Washington Lodge has a storied past, which presents us with a unique platform to represent Craft Freemasonry to the world. To adequately execute the plans laid forth for the Memorial’s Cornerstone Centennial Celebration and update our educational/museum exhibits in the Lodge Room and Replica Lodge Room, funds are required. The Foundation was established specifically to support the Lodge in telling the story of Freemasonry and the story of Washington as a Freemason. We are in the process of working with the Archives Committee and Officers to determine how much updates to the Lodge and Replica Lodge will cost. Initial estimates are about $60,000. This is a great deal of money, but it is not insurmountable. You can assist in raising these funds through the support of the Foundation.

Since launching the Foundation, nearly $50,000 have been raised. Thank you to everyone who has already demonstrated their support for the Lodge and Foundation thus far. To ensure the financial health of the Foundation, and to support 2023 activities and beyond, we need to double this amount through our Cornerstone Campaign. I challenge each of you to consider how much you might be able to invest in the Lodge’s future. Consider becoming a Charter Member of the Foundation with a $1,000 contribution. Some brothers question why we need to raise this money, especially when the Lodge accounts are not insignificant. The answer is twofold. First, to continue to offer strong programming and high-quality meals at each of our Stated Communications, support Lodge participation in the District Masters and Wardens Association, attendance at Grand Lodge, and participation in the Committee on Work’s Reid J. Simmons Masonic Ritual Academy – among other activities – we need to leave the Lodge accounts as intact as possible. Annually, the Lodge withdraws about three percent of its invested funds to support these activities. Taking a significant chunk from those funds will reduce our annual draw and diminish our capacity for regular activities. Continue reading

Call to Service: Preparing the Lodge for February 2023 and Beyond

By Bro. David Bella, Senior Warden

Two hundred and forty years ago, six Alexandrians – Robert Adam, Michael Ryan, William Hunter Sr., John Allison, Peter Dow, and Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick – submitted a petition to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania requesting a warrant to operate a Masonic Lodge in Alexandria. The combined imaginative talent of those six men could never foretell what lay in store for their town’s first lodge.

The lodge they founded has hosted Presidents, dignitaries, and Grand Masters from countless jurisdictions. It has laid nationally significant cornerstones such as the United States Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Institution, and Library of Congress to name a few. It has led important funeral services. It has practiced incalculable charity in the community which has positively impacted generations of Alexandrians. It has been a leader in the international masonic community. And perhaps, most importantly, it has created life-long friendships among its members. There is no denying the lodge they created has blossomed into a truly unique and special institution. Looking around the lodge and at our historical records, I am always struck by the astonishing quality of our members. I believe that the “specialness” of the lodge is in direct parallel to the greatness of our members. Over one hundred years ago, one of the most exceptional generations of our membership banded together to set in motion the construction of the most architecturally impressive masonic structure ever conceived: an august monument to our lodge’s most august member. Continue reading

AW22 Past Master Series: Daniel Froggett, PM

Wor. Daniel E. Froggett, Master in 2020, is featured in the latest installment of the AW22 Past Master Series. This documentary project highlights and preserves the sage wisdom and fond memories of the men chosen as servant leaders to their brothers at Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22.
Wor. Froggett currently serves as our Lodge secretary. Thank you for your tireless efforts and the countless hours of hard work you put in for our Lodge!

AW22 Past Master Series: Jim Stone, PM

Worshipful Jim Stone, our Worshipful Master in 1976, is featured in the latest installment of the AW22 Past Master series. This documentary project highlights and preserves the sage wisdom and fond memories of the men chosen as servant leaders to their brothers at Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22. We hope you enjoy hearing his stories as much as we do!

The Brethren of AW22 are always inspired by the leadership he exemplifies and the love and dedication he has for our Lodge. Thank you, Wor. Stone, for demonstrating to us what it means to be a good Mason.

Mental Health: Fulfilling Our Obligation by Aiding a Distressed Brother

By Nelo A. Hamilton, Jr., Junior Warden

As Freemasons, we are taught to aide those in distress, more especially a brother Mason. When imaging someone in distress, we often think of someone with a broken-down car or an individual approaching us on the street to ask for money. It is important, however, to recognize that the signs of distress aren’t always so obvious. As a fraternity, Masonry should cultivate an environment and foster relationships where the Brethren feel that they can be honest and open with one another about their mental health without stigmas or judgement being attached. It should also equip our members with the knowledge and skills to aide a Brother who confides in them.

A study by the Boston School for Mental Health found that 32.8% of adults in the US experienced elevated symptoms of depression in 2021. Additionally, 27.8% of adults in the US reported elevated symptoms of depression in 2020, compared to 8.5% before the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that depression rates are poised to remain high. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the overall percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% from August 2020 to February 2021.Considering the challenges we’ve faced as a country and society over the last couple years, including the COVID-19 Pandemic, civil unrest, a contentious election, social isolation, the fact our lives have changed so drastically for such a long period of time and ongoing economic uncertainties, there is little surprise that we would feel some drastic effects on our mental health.

The Worshipful Master’s mission this year is a significant first step in creating an environment where mental health is both normalized and prioritized, especially among men. Speaking openly and honestly about our mental

health is a critical step towards removing the stigma surrounding it. It is incumbent upon our leadership and members to hold honest conversations about depression and anxiety in order to create an environment where a struggling Brother feels comfortable seeking support. Although it may be outside the primary theme of their year, moving forward it is crucial that future Masters of AW22 continue to highlight mental health and establish the Lodge as a support system.

When a Brother reaches out, our first priority should be to listen. This does not mean offering advice or opinions, but instead actively listening to what is being said and offering understanding. According to the Mayo Clinic, listening and understanding can be a powerful healing tool. After that initial conversation, keep an open line of communication and check in often to see how they are doing. Encourage further help and point them towards organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( Familiarize yourself with the resources available. As individuals, we must be aware of our own wellbeing while also educating ourselves on how to be there for our Brethren. When we recognize a Brother is exhibiting symptoms of depression or anxiety, be proactive by genuinely asking how they are and lending a listening ear. Remember your obligation.

The harsh reality is that, according to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, with 45,979 Americans dying by suicide in 2020 and a staggering 1.2 million attempts. Of these, men died by suicide 3.88 times more than women. Let those numbers sink in for a moment. For some men, the Lodge is their primary – or only – support system; we must be there for one another.

In addition to further promotion of mental health, AW22 will be working to compile a list of helpful resources to be made available for the Brethren on the Lodge’s website. Let’s challenge ourselves to continue having these conversations and equip our Lodge with the working tools necessary to go out of our way to aide our distressed Brethren before it too late.

At the time of writing, Nelo Hamilton serves as the Junior Warden of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 . The views outlined in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 or the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge,  A.F. &A.M. of the Commonwealth of Virginia.