The North Carolina Mason

May/June 2021

North Carolina Mason

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May/June 2021 The North Carolina Mason Page 5 From the Grand master Of these, the greatest is charity By R. David Wicker Jr. Grand Master A s I reflect upon my answer to "What came you here to do," I am compelled to consider the tenants of Mason's profession, brotherly love, relief and truth. We are taught that truth is a divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson we are taught in Masonry. By brotherly love, we learn to regard the entire human species, without exception, as one family. rough relief, Masons are to sympa- thize with all who are suffering and to assist in restoring to them the peace of God. Applying these tenants, we learn that it is our duty to be charitable to all mankind. rough our charity, we can make a difference in the world; not only today, but in the future as well. You see, charity extends beyond the grave through the boundless realms of eternity. My brothers, the Freemasons in North Carolina are unique in that we are one of four jurisdictions that operates a children's home and a retirement community; the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford and WhiteStone in Greensboro. During my time as a Grand Lodge Officer, I have had the privilege to visit many lodges. During those visits, I was surprised to learn that a majority of our Craft have never visited either of our homes. With that in mind, I would like to focus on the past, present and future of the Masonic Home for Children. In the late 1830s, the Grand Lodge began to debate the subject of founding a Masonic College. For the next 20 years, delegates studied the issue, continued the debate and adopted resolutions. But very little action was taken. By 1850, the Grand Lodge Proceedings reveal that six propositions had been made by various lodges to locate the college in their respective county; each lodge pledging to donate money, buildings or both. In his address to the Grand Lodge in 1851, Grand Master A. T. Jenkins supported a proposal for "the erec- tion of a Masonic College in or near the town of Oxford." In 1853, the Proceedings reported that "the Board of Trustees availed themselves of a favorable opportunity and purchased a site for the college, a very handsome situation with the corporate limits of Oxford, at the price of $4,500." e property consisted of 119 acres. e Board of Trustees paid $2,250 and took out a mortgage for the rest. e Board of Trustees estimated an additional $17,355 would be needed to build the college, but took no additional action due to the lack of funds. As reported in the Grand Lodge Proceed- ings of 1857, construction of the building at St. John's College had been completed. In 1858, students were attending the college. However, with the advent of the Civil War, St. John's College began to suffer financially. In 1861, the Grand Lodge assessed $2 per contributing member of each lodge to raise $5,000 "to prevent the sale of the property belonging to the said college". Ultimately, financial hardships forced St. John's College to cease operations. In 1870, the committee studying the situa- tion recommended the property be sold. Although no action was taken, the recom- mendation sparked a great debate among the delegates. In 1871, a resolution was introduced providing "at this Grand Lodge will, under no circumstances, sanction the sale of said institution, nor permit it to be used for any purpose, save that for which it was erected." A substitute resolution was submitted to allow the Grand Treasurer to advertise and sell the property "on credit of one, two or three years." Another substitute resolution was submitted to sell St John's College to Tuscarora #122 (now Oxford #122) "for one-half of its real value." ese resolutions failed. e future of St. John's College was again debated at the Annual Communication in 1872. At that communication, Brother George B. Harris introduced a resolution "providing for the sale of St. John's College to the State for a Lunatic Asylum." Right Worshipful C.A. Cilley, JGW, introduced a resolution to advertise and sell the property. Brother John H. Mills then presented a substitute resolution providing for the creation of "an asylum for the protection, training and education of indigent orphan children." After debate, a vote was taken on Brother Mills' substitute motion. at vote resulted in a tie and Grand Master John Nichols cast the deciding vote to create the first Masonic children's home in the United States. (No disrespect to our Brothers in Kentucky. e home they founded in 1867 was not estab- lished exclusively as a children's home but as a home for the widows and orphans of the Civil War. e home in Kentucky has not cared for children since 1989 and is currently operated as senior care facility.) In December 1873, Robert L. Parrish, Nancy Parrish and Isabelle Robertson, all from Gran- ville County, were the first children admitted to the home. By 1874, nearly 150 children, "many of them without home or friends, being orphans in the true sense" were being cared for. Following the Civil War, the need for the care of orphan children was so great that in 1875, the Grand Lodge established the Mars Hill Asylum in the western part of the state. At that time, there were 35 children in care. After a short time in operation, the Children's Home in Mars Hill was consolidated with the Chil- dren's Home in Oxford. Although continuously supported by the Grand Lodge, the Home historically received funding from the state. In 1878, Sen. W.S. Harris of Franklin introduced a resolution that was approved, appropriating $3,000 per year to the orphanage. is amount grew to $5,000 in 1881 and $10,000 in 1885. In 1911, the state appropriated $30,000 for the home, which was serving 325 children. Sadly, the state has not appropriated funds for the home in many decades. e campus has grown from the original 119 acres to more than 300 today. e property has been in use continuously for farming opera- tions since 1873. In an effort to teach children work skills, there has been on the grounds, a hospital, electrical shop, woodworking shop, shoemaking shop and a print shop. In 1921, the Oasis and Sudan Shrine Temples installed the first swimming pool. In 1925, the John Nichols School was completed and in 1931, it became a public school, open to children from the city of Oxford. e school closed in 1973 due to a decline in attendance. Since then, the children in our care have attended public school in Oxford. ■ see WICKER, page 7 I was surprised to learn that a majority of our Craft have never visited either of our homes.

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