Free and Accepted Masons

St. Johns Day 1847

CELEBRATION AT DANSVILLE, N. Y. Geneseo, N. Y., June 25, 1847.
Dear Sir And Bro. :—The festival of St. John the Baptist was celebrated yesterday, at Dansville, in this county, (Livingston) by Phoenix Lodge, No. 115, assisted by a large number of Brethren from other places, among whom were delegates from four Chapters and eight Lodges, together with Brethren (nonaffiliated) from Geneseo, Geneva, Canisteo, Cohocton, and other towns. The Chapters represented were Hamilton, of Rochester; Elmira, of Elmira; Bradley, of Bath, and Dansville, of Dansville. The Lodges represented were Valley Lodge, of Rochester; Mount Morris, of Mount Morris; Union, of Lima; Steuben, of Bath ; Painted Post, of Corning; Friendship, of Elmira; Morning Star, of Hornellsville, and Howard, of Howard.
At 11 o’clock, a procession, consisting of the Brethren in attendance and about fifty or sixty ladies, was formed, under the direction of Bro. J. T. Beach, Marshal of the day, and accompanied by the celebrated “Adams’s Brass Band,” of Rochester, marched through some of the principal streets to the residence of the venerable Brother, Maj. Moses Van Campen, a Mason of long standing, one of the survivors of the Revolution, and of Sullivan’s memorable campaign. Here a halt was made, to enable the Brethren to pay their respects to the venerable Brother, who was too infirm to unite in the celebration, (being over ninety years of age.)
A beautiful little incident occurred here, that was to me very gratifying, although I do not know whether it is in accordance with Masonic usages. It serves to show, however, the estimation in which Bro. Van Campen is held by the citizens of Dansville. During the time the procession halted in front of his house, one of the Committee of Arrangements was deputed by the ladies to present in their names, to Bro. Van C, a sprig of acacia (evergreen,) with which each lady had provided herself before joining the procession. While the presentation was being made, several appropriate pieces of music were performed by the band.
After this ceremony was completed, the line of march was resumed, the Brethren respectfully raising their hats as they passed the door of the house, where the veteran stood, and proceeded to the First Presbyterian Church, which, by the kindness and liberality of the Trustees, was thrown open for the occasion.
The exercises at the church were conducted by the Rev. Mason Gallagher, Rector of the Episcopal Church, who, though not one of the Fraternity, promptly and cheerfully complied with the request of the committee to officiate.
The exercises consisted of music by the Band—Hymn, by the choir—reading of the third chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel—Prayer—Hymn by the Choir, followed by a Sermon by Rev. Mr. Gallagher, from Matthew xi. 11 : “Among them that are born of women, there hath not arisen one greater than John the Baptist.” The speaker, after giving a history of the miraculous birth and remarkable life of St. John, and depicting in vivid colors the many prominent virtues for which he was distinguished, closed by exhorting his hearers, in eloquent and affectionate terms, to strive to imitate in their lives and conduct, the noble and sublime example of humility, courage, self-denial, and above all, of regard for truth, afforded them in the life of this great man. But as I trust the sermon will be published, I will not attempt a sketch. Suffice it that it was every way worthy of the day and of the speaker.
The exercises were closed with a benediction. After which, the procession was again formed, and marched to the American Hotel, where one hundred Brethren, and nearly as many ladies, sat down to a sumptuous dinner, served up in good style. On being ” called from refreshment,” the Brethren repaired to the Lodge room, where the exercises of the day were closed.
The utmost harmony and good order prevailed throughout the day, and so far as I could learn, nothing occurred to mar the enjoyment of any one present.
Thus passed off the first public celebration of this festival that has been witnessed in this section of the country for many years. May its influence be felt among the opponents of our Order, and tend to lessen the prejudice which has so long existed in the community against the Fraternity.
Very truly, yours, &c. E. R. Hammatt.