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 Meyerhardt Lodge No. 314 F&A.M.

 

 

MEYERHARDT LODGE NO. 314, F. & A.M.

Kennesaw, Georgia

September 26 A.D., 1977

Chartered October 30, 1890

A BRIEF HISTORY

 

Meyerhardt Lodge No. 314, F. & A.M. was chartered

October 30, 1890 and for approximately thirteen years had no

Lodge building to call home. During at least a part of that

time communications were held in a blacksmith shop near the

original Lodge location and either in the old school house or

another building in that area, according to information

obtained from older members of the Lodge.

 

Max Meyerhardt - The man behind the name.

MASTER MASON - MASTER SERVANT
(The Life and Labors of Max Meyerhardt)
by William H. Sachs and Rex D. Chilton


He walked and worked in a small Georgia town only three generations ago,
yet few people living in his home town now ever heard of him, and fewer still
in other lodges of the Craft to whom he gave so much. Wrote future Grand
Master William H. Waits, then Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of
Georgia, in a letter to William Rosier dated 22 September 1975: "When I
became a member of Cherokee Lodge Number 66 in 1951, I asked many Masons of
years questions about Max Meyerhardt, and often received the reply 'Who is Max
Meyerhardt?'"


Sic transit gloria mundi - Thus passes the glory of the world.


Max Meyerhardt was a most unusual man, and may well have been the most
unusual Freemason ever in Georgia history. It began with his very name. In
the 19th century a German name was not all that unusual, even though the great
majority of people had English or Scotch-Irish names. After all, some German
Salzburgers had settled in the coastal plains of the state during the
mid-1700's, and at least one Georgia county is named for a German (Treutlen).

 

Max Meyerhardt's Masonic career was nothing short of spectacular. He was
raised in Cherokee Lodge Number 65 F.& A.M. on 18 October 1880. A year later
his lodge elected him Treasurer, but he resigned that position shortly
thereafter to serve as Senior Deacon. He was only 29 years old when he was
elected Worshipful Master of Cherokee Lodge, and served as such, re-elected
annually, for the following thirty-nine years until his death. Presumably he
attended the Grand Lodge sessions regularly as the representative of his
lodge, but he did not serve in the Grand Lodge line of officers. Yet he was
sufficiently well known, and popular in the Craft throughout the state, to be
nominated from the floor in 1898 as Deputy Grand Master under Grand Master
K.A. Davis.3 He then was elected Grand Master in 1900 to serve in 1901, and
was re-elected to this office annually for seven years, serving through
October 1907.

The Masonic Messenger

Even before the Convention was established Meyerhardt saw the need for a
newsletter or periodical to strengthen the bonds between the Freemasons of
Georgia, but there were no funds available from the Grand Lodge for such an
undertaking. He therefore used his own money to establish in 1895 the Masonic
Herald, with himself as editor and publisher.6 It took much faith to do so.
as the Rome News Tribune explained in an article on the Masonic Herald's first
anniversary:


The Herald was started at a time when the much talked
of money panic was in its prime, but with undaunted
courage Judge Meyerhardt put his shoulder to the wheel
and determined to make the venture.... He believed
that the 18,000 masons of Georgia would sustain it.
In this he was not disappointed. After the first
issue was sent out subscriptions came thick and fast,
and almost every mail brought letters of highest
commendations from distinguished masons all over the
United States.


One prominent contributor to the Herald was John W. Akin of Cartersville,
Georgia, who in 1894 had published (also privately) the Akin's Lodge Manual
and Law Digest. This was adopted a year later by the Grand Lodge of Georgia
as e replacement for the Ahiman Rezon of Past Grand Master William S.
Rockwell, which had been published in 1859. Due to the upheavals of war and
of the reconstruction period it was out of print, virtually unobtainable, and
also considered partially obsolete. Incidentally, the Grand Lodge in 1902 did
publish its own Masonic Code, but without the lectures or degrees. These
continued to be printed with Grand Lodge approval by Akin, but were
distributed by the Masonic Herald in Rome. Another highly regarded
contributor was probably D.R. Brock of Bremen, Georgia, who specifically
acknowledged in the preface to the first edition of his still widely used
BrocVs Manual of Masonic Lectures "the many valued suggestions from Past
Grand Master Max Meyerhardt". The Masonic Herald was soon endorsed by the
Grand Lodges of South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, and they
recommended it to their respective members.3 It continued to be successful
until Meyerhardt's death in 1923. When no qualified brother could be found to
take over as editor, the Masonic Herald folded and was replaced in the same
year by a publication from the newly established print shop at the Masonic
Home in Georgia. It was first called the Masonic Home Messenger, but soon the
name was shortened to simply, "The Masonic Messenger"

The Masonic Home of Georgia 


Unquestionably the most important legacy of Max Meyerhardt, and the
enterprise closest to his heart, was the Masonic Home of Georgia. The idea
for such a home was not exactly new; a Grand Lodge Committee to study the
feasibility of such a home was set up already in 1842, but in the aftermath of
the Morgan Affair, the sometimes strident anti-masonic movement, and the
rivalry between the Grand Lodges in Savannah and Milledgeville there simply
were no funds available for any serious consideration. Shortly thereafter the
Grand Lodge became dormant for the duration of the Kar (1862 - 1866), and then
struggled through the disastrous Period of Reconstruction. Thus it was not
until fifty years later, in 1892, that Grand Master John Davidson made an
"earnest plea" to the Grand Lodge to provide a home for masonic orphans as
well as elderly masons and masonic widows. The Grand Lodge agreed to build
one, but provided that no actual work was to be started until at least the sum
of $10,000 was in hand for the project. By 1899 only $7,500 had been
collected, but then Max Meyerhardt organized a fund raising committee with
himself as chairman, which in three years raised an additional $3,500, so the
work could be started. United States Senator Augustus 0. Bacon generously
donated the land amounting to about 100 acres on the Ocmulgee River in Macon,
and Grand Master Meyerhardt laid the cornerstone for the Home on 27 October
1903 during the annual Grand Lodge Session. He also was able to dedicate the
main building one year later, on 25 October 1904, and to install Mr. A.S.
Harris as the first superintendent. The Grand Lodge, in accordance with the
resolutions of 1842 and 1892, had established the home for masonic orphans,
elderly masons and their widows, but in 1912 it was determined that this was
not practical, and new admissions were restricted to orphans and semi-orphans
only. All the residents however were permitted to stay, and the last elderly
guest did not pass away until 1945.2 The first Board of Trustees for the
Masonic Home (1906) consisted of:
The four top officers of the Grand Lodge
Past Grand Masters - W.A. Davis and James Taylor
One Representative from each Masonic District
Two Representatives of the Craft at large
The Heads of the three York Rite State Bodies
The Grand Matron of the Order of Eastern Star
but there was no representative of the Scottish Rite.
Max Meyerhardt's Masonic labors were not confined to his symbolic lodge,
his Grand Lodge, The Masonic Herald, the District Convention, and the Masonic
Home. The records show that he joined Rome Chapter #26 of the Royal Arch
Masons on 23 April 1888, and served as its High Priest from 1893 to 1896. He
was a member of the Rome Council, Royal and Select Masters, and served as its
Thrice Illustrious Master. In 1917 he even served as Grand Master of the
Grand Chapter, R. & S.M.2 On 14 November 1913 he became a 32° Scottish Rite
Mason in the Atlanta Consistory, but appears to have been inactive. This may
have been because of some tension between the Grand Lodge and the' Scottish
Rite at that time, or because regular attendance at the meetings in Atlanta
just took too much time. He also became a member of Yaarab Temple of the
Shrine in Atlanta on 21 January 1914, for which he was sponsored by George
Adair, who in 1915 would become one of the founders of the Scottish Rite
Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta, and be honored with the 33° or
highest degree of the Scottish Rite.


It would seen that all these accomplishments would be ample proof of his
extraordinary leadership, but the most graphic testimonial may well rest in
figures. During his seven years as Grand Master, Masonic membership in the
state grew by 42.61, and at the end of the period there were 22.4% more
Masonic lodges than at the beginning.2


All of these achievements would satisfy almost any common man, but Max
Meyerhardt was not a common man. He was a lawyer all his adult life, but he
considered the legal profession as an opportunity to serve as well as as a
livelihood. This service included many years as City Attorney for the City of
Rome, as well as Judge of the City Court from 1887 to 1891. He resumed his
work as City Attorney in 1909, and served as such until his death, but this
being a part-time assignment he also continued his private practice. Always
eager to serve his community, and realizing that its well being required
better educational facilities, he served on the board of the Young Mens'
Library Association from its beginning, and was instrumental in 1910 in
obtaining money from Andrew Carnegie to build a Carnegie Library in Rome. He
then served as president of its Board of Trustees until his death. He also
gave of his amazing energy and talent to the Board of Education from its
organization in 1882, and held the office of secretary of that body for
twenty-seven years, until 1909.


Yet there is still another facet to the life of this "Master Servant".
He was not only a Jew by virtue of birth, he was a devout one by virtue of his
character. He organized the first Sunday School for his small congregation
Rodeph Shalom, and arranged for teaching it in the Masonic Temple Annex until
a synagogue could be built.3 Shortly after the founding of B'nai B'rith, the
first Jewish national service organization, he arranged to establish a Rome
branch. It became dormant after Meyerhardt's death, but was reorganized a few
years later by Daniel Lease, a member (and later Past Master) of Cherokee
Lodge, and others, and was renamed Max Meyerhardt Lodge.10 While serving as
Judge of the City Court he insisted that no court would be held on his
Sabbath, which he conscientiously observed. It was his strong recommendation
that all Seventh District Convention meetings included some time for religious
services, which were open to the public and featured both masons and
non-masons as preachers. Firm in his own faith, he was tolerant of all
others, highly respected for such tolerance, and quite often referred to by
others as "our Methodist Jew".1 He also wrote hymns for Jewish services, two
of which were incorporated into the Union Hymnal of the Reform Jewish
Movement. Few words better exemplify his devotion than the last verses of his
Passover Hymn:
Yet not alone in days of yore
has God his wondrous mercy shown,
for still he grants to all mankind
a glorious light to lead them on.
A lamp of radiant, glowing hue
by Israel borne in every clime,
through fire and flood, through tears and blood
with courage grand and faith sublime.
Oh heavenly lamp! Thy light shall shine
'til sin and hate from earth depart,
'til wrong shall fail and right prevail
and justice rule the human heart.


Max Meyerhardt passed away at his home on 2 March 1923, 67 years of age,
of heart disease. Two days later he was buried in the Hebrew cemetery on
Myrtle Hill in Rome, overlooking the place where the Etowah and Oostenaula
Rivers join to form the Coosa River. The religious services were conducted by
his friend, Rabbi Dr. David Marx, 33° of the Temple in Atlanta, and the
Masonic services were conducted by Grand Master Dr. Joe Bowdoin. There is a
dignified epitaph on the tomb stone, and special markers with tributes to him
also at the Masonic Home in Macon, and at the Carnegie Library in his home
town. But nothing illustrates the influence of this man on his fellowmen as
well as this touching eulogy:
He of the Cherokee Lodge may lose all our material
possessions, and this indeed would be a tremendous
loss, but we can never lose our most valuable
possession, the ideals, the achievements, and the
works of Max Meyerhardt. May we be faithful to our
sacred obligation by carrying out the designs
expressed in the life and deeds of our illustrious
brother Max Meyerhardt.7


He left an estate of less than $10,000 - a very modest amount for a
lawyer after more than forty-five years of practice even in those days. His
family was not surprised. They knew that he had always given freely of his
time, of his services, and of his money to those in need, and that it was his
custom never to charge any poor person, and especially not any widow or
orphan. He earned honestly what he needed for himself and for his family, but
saw no need to accumulate money for either wealth or power. He lived
according to the commandments of his faith, and according to the teachings of
his beloved Craft. By so living, he lived to the fullest, and at the end
deserved in every way the cherished judgement: "Well done, my good and
faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord."
Presented November 30, 1990
 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. MAX MEYERHARDT - A Biographical Sketch (1959). Written by PGM Dewey
Kollstein, published by Cherokee Lodge Number 66 F. & A.M.
2. THE GRAND LODGE OF GEORGIA, F. & A.M. - 1776-1980. By William Rosier and
F. Lamar Pearson, Jr. First Edition (1983), published by the
Educational and Historical Commission, Grand Lodge of Georgia,
F.& A.M.
3. THE AMERICAN ISRAELITE, 8 March 1923.
4. Report on Seventh District Convention in ROME NEWS TRIBUNE on May, 1920.
5. NEWS TRIBUNE, Rome Georgia, 5 October 1975.
6. Report on First Anniversary of MASONIC HERALD, (1896). Unidentified news
clipping, probably ROME NEWS TRIBUNE.
7. William H. Rosier: Biographies of Georgia Grand Masters, (unpublished).
8. Verbal and/or written communications from Mrs. Stanford (Margaret Ann)
Schulman of Atlanta, a grand daughter of Max Meyerhardt.
9. Letter from William H. Waits, Senior Grand Warden, to William H. Rosier,
dated 22 September 1975.
10 Letter from Daniel Lease, to William H. Sachs, dated 11 August 1985.


eras
A Prayer For The Middle- Aged
(The Publisher's Mother) ..
"Lord, thou knowest. better, .than I
would know myself, that -I .am growing
older and that- some day I shall he old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking '
I must say something on every subject and
on every occasion.. .;' .,. ^.. .....::.:.-.-.. ..
"Release me from craving to straighten
out everybody's affairs, Make me, thoughtful
but not moody, helpful but not bossy.
With my" vast store of wisdom, it seems a
"Keepfm^mihd fre'e-ifrpm recital:.of
eridless details, give me wings to get "to tile
point; Sealmylips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing, and love of rehearsing
them is becoming sweeter as the years
go by. I dare not ask for grace to enjoy the
tales of others ^ pain, but help me to endure
with patience. -;; ':••'•'<'' :
"I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for growing humility, and a lessening
of cocksureness when my memory seems
to clash with the memory of others.
"Teach me the glorious lesson that, occasionally,
1 may be mistaken: Keep me
reasonably sweet — I do not want to be a
saint — some of them are .so hard to live
with, but a sour old person is one of the
crowning works of the devil. /
"Give me the ability to see good things
in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected
people. And give me, 0 Lord, the
grace to tell them so." _ - ^....^