A walking stick used by Abraham Lincoln and a Civil War bone pipe carved by a prisoner of war during the Civil War are among the items in the Sterling Masonic Lodge display now at Sterling Public Library. The items all have some kind of connection to the Masons. (Callie Jones/Journal-Advocate)
Lincoln, Jefferson artifacts at library through month’s end
Historic display marks Masons’ milestone
By Callie Jones
STERLING — A walking stick used by Abraham Lincoln and a Thomas Jefferson’s violin. Those are just a couple of the items that are part of a display from the Sterling Masonic Lodge that is now setup at Sterling Public Library.
According to Chaplain Bob Elsloo, the display is traveling museum of just a small portion of the items that are at the M.W. Grand Lodge of Colorado A.F. & A.M., in Colorado Springs. The Grand Lodge Library and Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“It’s just one way to get out in the community and commemorate 150 years in Colorado,” Elsloo said about the display.
The first Masonic meeting in Colorado Territory was held on Nov. 3, 1858. Shortly
Colorado became an official territory, the Grand Lodge was formed on Aug. 2, 1861. Elsloo said the traveling museum is just one of many things the Masons are doing this year to celebrate 150 years in Colorado.
The display includes a video about the pieces on display and the history of the Masons. There are also poster boards with information about the beginning of Masonry in Colorado and 150 years of Masonry in Colorado.
Items on display include a walking stick made by William and James Dunlap and carried by Abraham Lincoln, who carved his monogram on the silver head during his 1960 campaign against Stephan Douglas, and a violin owned by Jefferson. The violin was manufactured between the late 1700s and early 1800s and is inscribed “TJ 1824.”
There is also information about Masonic United States presidents. Between 14 and 16 presidents were Freemasons, beginning with George Washington and ending with Gerald Ford.
Lincoln was not a Freemason but he maintained the highest level of respect for the institution. He petitioned Tyrian Lodge in Springfield, Ill., for membership shortly before his nomination for presidency in 1860, but withdrew his application for membership because he did not want to win the
election because he was a Mason. He planned on reapplying for membership after his presidency.
A violin owned by Thomas Jefferson is among the items that are part of a display from the Sterling Masonic Lodge that is now at Sterling Public Library. The display will remain at the library through the end of July. (Callie Jones/Journal-Advocate)
Jefferson was believed to be active Mason during his life; however, little record of his Masonic activities exists.
Other items on display include a Civil War bone pipe carved by a prisoner of war during the Civil War, a letter from George Washington to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, a picture of Theodore Roosevelt in Masonic dress and a variety of Past Grand Master and Past Master jewels and Grand Lodge officer pins, among other things.
There is also information about the first cornerstone in Colorado, which was laid by the Grand Lodge of Colorado Territory, for the depot of the Denver Pacific Railway Company.
The Sterling Masonic Lodge is planning a cornerstone ceremony for the library, to be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 20.
“It’s kind of a really neat historical ceremony,” Elsloo said.
He said the Grand Lodge officers will be there and the ceremony will be similar to the cornerstone ceremony held at the capitol of the United States, in Washington D.C.
There will be a luncheon at the Sterling Masonic Lodge following the ceremony.
“Everyone is welcome,” Elsloo said.
Freemasonry is a fraternal association based on philanthropy. There are many groups in Masonry, which include the Shriners, Knights Templar and Scottish Rite.
There are currently 2.5 million Masons in the U.S. and 4 million worldwide. There are about 11,000 members of the Masonic Fraternity in Colorado.
In North America the Masonic Fraternity gives $1.5 million a day to a number of charitable causes, ranging from operating children’s hospitals, funding medical research, treating childhood language disorders and providing community services.
The Sterling Masonic Lodge does a number of things for the community including offering a child identification program, providing scholarships to high school students for college and sponsoring high school students to go to a band camp in Greeley where they march in the Greeley Stampede. Elsloo said the students the Colorado Masons sponsored this year, who just marched in the Greeley Stampede’s Fourth of July parade last week, took first place in state, over Maple Grove Marching Crimson and 101st Military Band. The group included three students from Sterling.
“To place first in those standings is neat,” Elsloo said.
Some of the students have never marched in a marching band before but they spend three days learning how at the camp, which is facilitated by the University of Northern Colorado music department. Teachers at the camp include instrumentalists from all over the U.S.
The Masonic display will remain at the library through the end of July.