In 1970, Willard Faroe Bond, Jr. published a book entitled "The First Hundred Years." It was a history of Aiken Lodge No. 156, Ancient Free Masons of which he was currently serving as Senior Deacon. During his information search, I had the privilege to ask him about his task which I think resulted in a gift of an autographed copy of his book from him and Aiken Lodge. As noted in the introduction, Brother Bond admitted that it was no easy task and lamented that the first four minute books of Aiken Lodge had not been seen in the last thirty-five years.
The book has other special meanings to me as I remember the encouragement the members of that Lodge gave me as I became more involved in the various branches of Masonry. That encouragement has increased over the years and I still cherish the friendships and encouragement that comes my way from Aiken Lodge.
I intended this article to be about writing a Lodge history and the importance of such an endeavor. As usual, I went to my "library" in search of information. To my surprise, I found a Short Talk Bulletin written by our own Past Grand Master WC. Wylie, Jr. entitled "The Lodge Historian", (Vol.73, Nov. 1995, No II). This STB was originally published as a paper in the 1994 Transactions of the South Carolina Research Society. The MSA thought it was a good article and printed it as a Short Talk Bulletin. It is an excellent guide for a Lodge Historian.
How would you like to give your Lodge a gift that would last for ages? I know there are many Brothers that have the patience, determination, enthusiasm and curiosity to undertake such a task. One of the statements Brother Bond made in his introduction "The first four minute books of Aiken Lodge have not been seen in thirty-five years," causes me to reflect on where my own Lodge's minute books are located. Do you know where your Lodge's minute books are and their condition?
The sources of information to one writing a Lodge history are almost limitless. Old minute books are the natural starting place for a Lodge Historian. They give a factual record of not only who received what degrees and when, but show a record of visitors, why they were there and what they said. There are many other events which will be recorded in the minutes that will make a good record and an enjoyable read. If minute books are lost, one can rely only on the Grand Lodge figures and facts reported in the Annual Report.
In addition to the minute books, there are many other sources of information for the Historian. The visitor's register, old newspaper clippings, Grand Lodge Proceedings, the older members in our Lodges and the list is endless. But, let us return to the earlier question of the location and condition of our old minute books.
Even if you say doing a history of my Lodge is above my pay grade, there is one thing you can do; That is, to locate all your old minute books and list them in order of dates used and make a report to the Lodge of what you have done and the condition of the books. Then, make arrangements for them to be stored in a safe and secure place such as a fireproof safe and have this information stated in the current minutes. At this point, a challenge to write your Lodge's history may seem a little less intimidating. Think about it. A history of your Lodge would be a great gift for years to come.
William R. Logan
Senior Grand Warden
Chairman Masonic Education Committee