General Marquis De Lafayette, a Frenchman and Major General Baron DeKalb, a German and ten others came to this country in 1777 to assist in the cause of freedom. Major General Baron Dekalb was wounded in the Battle of Camden, S.C. August 16, 1780, died two days later, and was buried in Camden, S.C. with Masonic Honors, August 19th. General Lafayette visited America in 1824-25 as guest of the nation and while in America he was invited by the City of Camden to participate in laying a cornerstone of a monument designed by architect Robert Mills to Baron Dekalb. He accepted this invitation and arrived in Camden August 8, 1825. On the following day performed the duties in accordance with a Dispensation from M.W. Bro. John Geddes, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in South Carolina, dated February 28th, 1825. General Lafayette used a silver trowel made of Mexican coin, by Alexander Young for this special occasion, and it has ever since been known as the Lafayette Trowel. The trowel is now the property of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina.
The afternoon before the cornerstone ceremony, Kershaw Lodge No. 29 convened at four o’clock to officially receive General Lafayette. On being presented in the Lodge he was welcomed by Bro. Abraham De Leon, Worshipful Master. Wor. Bro. De Leon, also French, addressed and welcomed General Lafayette in their mother tongue. Bro. Lafayette, being overjoyed at this reception removed his Grand Masters Jewel of France, approached Bro. De Leon and placed it around his neck as a personal gift and souvenir of the occasion. It has ever since been known as the Lafayette Jewel. Wor. Bro. De Leon came to Camden from Charleston, S.C., to which he later returned and affiliated with Friendship Lodge No. 9. After his death his family presented the Lafayette Jewel to the Lodge to be preserved for posterity. In November 1944 Kershaw Lodge No. 29 was invited to visit Friendship Lodge and confer the Master Mason degree for them. The officers of Kershaw Lodge accepted the invitation, filled the chairs and conferred the degree. After the work was completed, Kershaw Lodge was presented an exact replica of the Lafayette Jewel with this inscription, “Lafayette Jewel presented by Friendship Lodge No. 9, A.F.M. to Kershaw Lodge No. 29, A.F.M. November 27, 1941.”
The Lafayette Trowel, was made by Alexander Young, a silversmith in Camden in the year 1825. It was made from Mexican Silver Coins and has an ivory handle. It was made for the specific purpose of being used by the Marquis De Lafayette in laying the cornerstone to the monument erected to General Baron DeKalb which stood in the center of Main Street and U.S. Hwy. No. 1 in Camden, S.C. and later moved to a spot near the highway in front of the Presbyterian Church in Camden.
At the Annual Communication in 1893, M.W. Bro. John D. Kennedy informed the Grand Lodge that the Lafayette Trowel was in possession of Mrs. Ann C. Salmond, the wife of a Master Mason and a former member of Kershaw Lodge No. 29. He informed the Grand Lodge that Mrs. Salmond was willing to turn the Trowel over to the Grand Lodge upon receipt of at least $400.00 and that the Brethren of Kershaw Lodge were agreeable to the Grand Lodge possessing the Trowel under these circumstances.
It was moved, second and carried that the Grand Lodge appropriate $50.00 from the Treasury and the Grand Secretary solicit voluntary contributions from the Lodges to make up the remaining $350.00. Mrs. Salmond was presented four hundred dollars and the Grand Lodge took possession of the Trowel.
At the time Grand Lodge gained possession of the Trowel, it has already been used in laying the Cornerstones to the Masonic Temple in Charleston, Kings Mountain Monument, Cowpens Monument, Jasper Monument, Simms Monument, the Masonic Temple, the Chicola Hotel in Anderson and many other edifices and monuments. Since that time, it has been used symbolically in the laying of every Cornerstone laid by the Grand Lodge of A.F.M. in South Carolina. It is considered to be one of the most priceless possessions of The Grand Lodge of A.F.M. of South Carolina.
The Trowel is inscribed as Follows:
Made for Brother LAFAYETTE
to lay the Corner of DE KALB’S Monument
William B. Rogers