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A Letter in the April 11 Tomahawk Leader:
To the Editor:
Have you seen the movie National Treasure? Did you read Dan Brown’s best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code or plan on seeing the movie? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve been introduced to the Freemasons.
You may have heard of this organization, and haven’t a clue as to what it is. Many others aren’t familiar with it at all. There are lots of misconceptions and misinformation concerning the Masons strictly due to them not being all that public. Freemasonry has been labeled a religion and a secret society, neither of which is true. The simplest definition is that it’s a fraternity of men concerned with the moral and ethical side of life; with symbolism and rituals being the way they advance their own personal development through a series of three degrees: The Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. … It’s a philosophy and a way of life unique to each man’s experience and perception.
Its official beginning was in England on June 24, 1717, although its origins are far older. There have been many famous Masons, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, explorers Lewis and Clark, Green Bay Packer Bart Starr, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, John Wayne, Walt Disney, Houdini, Mozart and others. Another Mason you should all be familiar with is William H. Bradley. He founded Tomahawk Land and Boom Co. in 1886, giving way to what we know today as Hatchet country. The following year another Mason, Angus Buie, erected the first building. By 1890, nearly 2,000 people lived in Tomahawk. That year, 17 Masons signed a petition to form a lodge, and the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin was approved. Among its first members were A.J. Olsen, Tomahawk’s first city clerk, A.H. Woodworth, Tomahawk’s first lawyer and first city attorney, J.D. Cutter, the first doctor and superintendent of schools, and Frank Larson, the first postmaster.
The lodge met in a variety of places until finally in 1969 sufficient funds were raised to erect a new building strictly for lodge purposes. By the late 80s and early 90s, however, membership suffered and the Tomahawk Lodge dissolved, joining the Rhinelander Lodge, which was erected in 1930. A complete pictorial history of Tomahawk’s past Masters is on display (there), dating back to the 1890s.
I was raised a Master Mason last November, and it has been a wonderful experience. We provide scholarships for graduating students, participate in the food pantry, donate money to hospitals and other worthwhile causes, and help those in need. With tolerance and an open mind being qualities we hold in high regard, a man of any religious faith or political affiliation may join. We do not, however, solicit members. For those who may wonder how to be part of this rewarding and honorable fraternity, the rules are simple: “2B1ASK1.”
The historical information was originally published in Vol. 1 of Forward Freemasonry in 1996. It covers Tomahawk on Pages 213 and 214. It’s available at the library for further reading. Any questions may be addressed by contacting me at 453-0627.
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