Brother Robert Burns

Robert Burns celebrated Scottish poet, is considered a seminal figure in 18th-century literature.  Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland on January 25, 1759.  Robert was born the eldest of seven children born to William and Agnes Burns.  Robert’s father as a tenant farmer struggled to support his family.  Because of this, Burns had to work on the family farm from a young age.  However, at the age of fifteen, while working the harvest season with his field partner, Helen Kilpatrick, Burns felt his first love which sparked his passion for love and poetry, and he soon wrote his first poem; “Handsome Nell”.  He began to pursue poetry (and Love) with fervency and zeal.  The traditional folk songs and ballads of Scotland, as well as the works of contemporary poets such as Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson heavily influenced his early poems.  His early works focused on nature’s beauty, the simplicity of rural life, and the struggles of the working class.

In 1777, at the age of eighteen, Burns left the family farm to find work and support his family.  He worked as a flax-dresser, plowman, and tutor but continued to write poetry in his free time.  At the age of twenty-one, in 1781, Brother Burns joined the Lodge of St. David, Tarbolton, Scotland, a significant step as Freemasonry was an influential and respected organization in 18th century Scotland.  The Fraternity provided Brother Burns with a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and an opportunity for self-improvement and personal growth.  This likely led to the publication of his first collection of poetry, “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,” in 1786 which was well-received by critics and the public and established our Brother as a significant literary figure in Scotland.

Robert Burns is famous for writing poetry to charm and impress women.  However, he had a special interest in Jean Armour and courted her for several years before they married on July 4, 1788.  Together they had twelve children.  Even with his marriage, Burns continued to have extramarital affairs which resulted in more children with other women.  Jean, the daughter of a local operative stonemason, remained devoted to Burns throughout their marriage.

In 1788, Burns began to collaborate with James Johnson in compiling an anthology titled “The Scots Musical Museum”.  During the last decade of his life, Burns devoted himself to editing and revising traditional folk songs for this volume and for the “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs”.  These publications played a crucial role in preserving elements of Scotland’s cultural heritage, featuring renowned songs such as “My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose” and “Auld Land Syne”

As a poet, Brother Burns possessed exceptional oratory skills and his speeches at Masonic gatherings were highly esteemed.  Because of this, he earned the title of Lodge’s Poet Laureate.  His participation in Freemasonry had a notable impact on his literary works.  Many of his poems and songs were written for Masonic events and ceremonies and contain references to Masonic symbols and themes.  One of his most famous poems, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That,” is a tribute to the fraternity’s ideals of Brotherhood and equality.  Additionally, his poem “The Brotherly Ties of Friendship” is a clear allusion to the principles of Freemasonry.  Freemasonry’s emphasis on equality greatly influenced Brother Burns’ beliefs and poetry.  As a vocal advocate for the rights of the working class, many of his poems and songs reflect his belief in the importance of equality among all individuals.

Unfortunately, Brother Burns’ later years were plagued by personal and professional difficulties.  His extramarital affairs and financial struggles caused tension in his marriage and damaged his reputation.  He also faced challenges in gaining recognition and respect from his peers.  His health started declining rapidly, suffering from various illnesses such as rheumatism and heart disease.  These difficulties ultimately led to his untimely death at the age of 37 on July 21, 1796, the same day his wife gave birth to their twelfth child, Maxwell.

Brother Burns’ literary legacy endures despite the hardships and struggles he faced throughout his life. His poems and songs remain celebrated and revered, serving as a testament to his skill as a poet and his dedication to the ideals of Freemasonry earning him the title of National Bard of Scotland.

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Sad News To Report – In Loving Memory of Carlton Harry Baker

It is my sad duty to report the passing of Brother Carlton Harry Baker. Brother Baker put down his heavy Earthy working tools of life after 66 years as a Mason.

Carlton Harry Baker
April 23, 1932 – September 6, 2023

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Brother Carlton Harry Baker on September 6, 2023, in the comforting care of Hospice, after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He departed this world surrounded by the loving embrace of his cherished children and other close family members.

Brother Carl was a remarkable soul whose presence enriched the lives of all fortunate enough to know him. He possessed a boundless spirit, living his life to the fullest and spreading warmth wherever he went. To encounter Carl was to be touched by his special brand of magic. He possessed a wealth of knowledge that seemed limitless, offering insights on topics ranging from aviation to finance and beyond.

In his journey through life, Brother Baker was preceded in death by his parents, Brother Gordon and Dorothy Carr Baker, who imparted to him the values of diligence, respect for others, gratitude for life’s blessings, a commitment to community service, and an unwavering dedication to family.

He was also preceded by his beloved siblings, David, Doug, and Stella. From them, he learned the arts of self-preservation and negotiation, along with the invaluable lessons of faith and humor as guiding lights through life’s challenges.

Brother Carl was a devoted husband, having shared his life with Shirley Winegar Baker and Betty Rahill Baker, both of whom preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother Kirk, his children Ron Winegar (Mary), Tom Winegar (Lyn), Bonnie Baker, and son David Baker, along with four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a multitude of Rahill relatives too numerous to tally.

In lieu of a formal memorial service, Brother Carl’s final wish was for all who read these words to raise a glass in his honor, embrace those near to them, and reconnect with long-lost friends or family members. Let us celebrate his life by spreading joy, love, and connection, just as he did during his time with us.

A private interment will take place in Elma, New York at a later date.

Rest in eternal peace, dear Brother Carl, your memory lives on in our hearts.

Our Brother was Initiated as an Entered Apprentice on February 12, 1957. Passed to Fellowcraft on March 23, 1957, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on June 1, 1957. Our Brother was Raised to the Celestial Lodge in the sky on September 6, 2023, at the age of 90 and a Mason for 66 years. Our Brother worked the quarry for many years and leaves behind a great legacy. Thank you Brother for all of your contributions to Masonry and to the betterment of humanity. You can rest knowing your good works will live on for years to come.

Please join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the family of Brother Baker in this difficult time.

“Well done thou good and faithful servant.  Enter thou into the joy of the Lord” Amen.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

On the evening of March 14th, we were honored to welcome the DDGM to our Lodge, and it proved to be an enriching experience, brimming with stimulating conversation. Our discussions ranged from the origins of St. Patrick’s Day to the intricate nuances of the Masonic Ritual, and we were able to uncover several obscure but fascinating facts about Freemasonry. Adding to the evening’s festivities, WB Andruczyk prepared a delectable meal of corned beef and cabbage that tantalized the senses and brought everyone together in appreciation.

This occasion was a true embodiment of the tenets of Fellowship and learning that underpin our Masonic community, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have shared it together. It is through such gatherings that we can broaden our horizons and deepen our understanding of not only each other but also of the world around us, and we look forward to future opportunities to engage in similar exchanges of ideas and knowledge.