Grand Lodge of West Virginia

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The Grand Lodge of West Virginia is a freemason organization in West Virginia. It is the only Grand Lodge recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and hence "regular" in the state.[1][2] (The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia is not currently recognized by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and hence not by UGLE.) It had maintained the West Virginia Masonic Home.[3][4]

History[edit]

Before the American Civil War, West Virginia had been a part of Virginia, and its Lodges were therefore under the control of the Grand Lodge of Virginia.[5] The area that became West Virginia seceded from the Confederacy and "maintenance of fraternal relations between lodges of the two states became impossible" (Gazette-Times, in 1915). A convention to create a new lodge took place in 1864, and then at the war's end, on April 12, 1865, the day when Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was formally disbanded by ceremony at Appomattox Court House, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia was founded in Fairmont, West Virginia. William Bates was its first Grand Master.[6] Over the following period there was confusion as many West Virginia lodges still maintained loyalty to the Grand Lodge of Virginia although all the Lodges that were originally chartered by Virginia were re-chartered by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia within the next fifty years.[7][6]

Famous West Virginia Freemasons[edit]

Association of the Grand Lodge with West Virginia state government continues, for example with then-Governor Gaston Caperton attending "West Virginia Masonic Heritage Day Celebration" in Charleston on August 21, 1993 to accept a "resolution honoring the memory of our Brother and former Governor, George Wesley Atkinson." Nationally prominent U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd was to receive a "Legion of Honor" award that day, relating to his public service and Freemasonry.[13]

Haas lawsuit[edit]

In 2008, Frank Joseph Haas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge during 2005-2006 and a lawyer and administrative law judge himself, sued the Grand Lodge over its expulsion of him in 2007.[14][15]

In 2006, Haas tried to bring about reforms of the Grand Lodge which would do away with discriminatory practices.[16] This included allowing men of varying races, age groups, and physical abilities into West Virginia Masonic lodges and allowing lodges in West Virginia to support non-Masonic charities. The changes would also permit Prince Hall Masons (predominantly African-American) from other recognized jurisdictions to visit West Virginia lodges.[16][17]

In the meeting at which his term of office expired, Haas claims the reforms were passed by a close vote. The reform proposals were immediately ruled invalid by Charles Coleman, one of two Grand Masters who succeeded him. In November 2007, Haas was expelled by the other Grand Master, Charlie Montgomery.[16] In May 2008 Haas sued the Grand Lodge and the two successors over the expulsion, saying it was without due process, and seeking readmission and damages.[17] The lawsuit was notable for offering "a glimpse into the world of the Masons", a society that "is not exactly secretive, [but] has often been veiled in mystery, as some of its customs and practices are not revealed to non-members."[14] Unusual pre-trial motions sought to ban discussion of Masonic rituals and comparisons to Hitler, and a subpoenaed witness was granted a protective order in which Masons are "enjoined and restrained from taking any punitive measures ... as a result of his giving a deposition."[18]

One characterization of the result is that a judge ruled that the Grand Lodge had violated its own internal rules, but there was no legal penalty to be applied against the Lodge, and the jury awarded no damages for the breach of contract.[19] More strongly, the defending lawyer stated the jury "found in the defendants' favor on all counts".[15] A reporter summarized that the case "sends a message that [private] organizations have much leeway in how they manage their affairs, make their rules and deal with membership issues."[15]

Haas was later admitted in to a Lodge in Ohio, which caused the Grand Lodge of West Virginia to withdraw its recognition of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. In 2013, Haas was reportedly expelled from the Ohio jurisdiction and GLWV again recognized the Grand Lodge of Ohio.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United Grand Lodge of England - Foreign Grand Lodges". www.ugle.org.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  2. ^ "HOME > West Virginia Grand Lodge AF & AM". West Virginia Grand Lodge AF & AM. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "PARKERSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA: The Masonic Home". electricearl.com. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  4. ^ Baucher, Todd (9 January 2017). "Commission discusses future uses for West Virginia Masonic Home". Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  5. ^ The Formation of the Grand Lodge from "A Century of Freemasonry", hosted by the West Virginia Grand Lodge
  6. ^ a b ""Interesting Masonic Event to be Observed". The Gazette Times. April 10, 1915. from Google News.
  7. ^ A History of Monroe County, West Virginia
  8. ^ a b Denslow, William R. "10,000 Famous Freemasons, vol. 1". 
  9. ^ Cotner, Robert (2011-03-04). "Osiris Noble Frank Buckles, Eldest Shriner, Dies in West Virginia" (PDF). Shrinelines. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-21. 
  10. ^ Javers, Eamon (September 28, 2009). "In search of the Hill's Freemasons". Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  11. ^ Beverly, Steve and Chris Tufts. "First-Ever Central Character On "To Tell The Truth" Dies At 86". Daily Game Show Fix. 
  12. ^ Denslow, William R. "10,000 Famous Freemasons, vol. 4". 
  13. ^ "Remarks Of The Grand Master Of Masons In West Virginia". West Virginia State Division of Culture and Heritage. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Clevenger, Andrew (June 9, 2008). "Judge sues W.Va. Masons". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c Caswell, Cheryl (December 16, 2010). "Jury finds Masons not guilty in case". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c Barry, Dan (16 June 2008). "From Would-Be Reformer, to Former Mason, to Plaintiff". New York Times. 
  17. ^ a b Associated Press (June 9, 2008). "Expelled Mason in W.Va. sues grand master, lodge". The Herald-Dispatch. 
  18. ^ Ry Rivard (December 3, 2010). "Jury to be selected in Masonic law case". Charleston Gazette-Mail. 
  19. ^ Christopher Hodapp (December 15, 2010). "Verdict in Haas vs. Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM". 
  20. ^ Milliken, Fred (February 13, 2013). "PGM Frank Haas Alleged to Have Been Expelled From the Grand Lodge of Ohio Who Previously Granted Him Asylum". Freemason Information. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 

External links[edit]