About 10 years ago I completed my first volunteer project with the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library. I digitized the Lou B. Winsor Photo Collection. At the moment, the collection exists as 161 images documenting the life, Masonic times, and friends of MWBro. Lou B. Winsor, PGM. The photo collection, along with our Masonic records and copies of Lou’s diaries have formed the corpus of the resources I use to make presentations and write papers regarding Lou B. Winsor.
I’ve always known the portraits in the collection that are not Lou Winsor (about 40 or so) were either Grand Lodge officers, 33rds, or people who were active in the Shrine at the Imperial level. However, there has never bee any systematic research to find out why each of these portraits might be in the collection. No one has ever dug into who these men were. It is an important question because to know them is to know something more about Lou Winsor.
I’ve finally started that project. I began by uploading the photos in groups onto the Masonic History Wiki. Then I started researching each photo/person. Generally I complete one a day or every other day. I have about 20 other active Masonic research projects and I’ve included this one into part of my morning routine. A slow but sure labor of love intended to plumb the depths of the Winsor photo collection.
I’ve found some fascinating stories. For instance, there is a very stylized portrait of an Episcopal Bishop in the collection. I’ve always known he was somehow connected to the Imperial Council of the Shrine because I’ve seen him in other Lou B. Winsor Shrine related group photos. On investigating his background, I discovered that Bishop Keator is one of the six or so men credited with conceiving and creating the Shrine’s network of hospitals for children. He undoubtedly knew Lou B. Winsor because Lou was the longstanding Chairman of Finance for Imperial, including the days during the Shrine’s first steps into what became its defining philanthropy.
Several of the photos have a Grand Rapids connection. Often they are connected to the Valley of Grand Rapids or Saladin Shrine. Both make sense given Winsor’s long term involvement in both.
For some I’m only able to say a few words because that is all I have found so far. Others, particularly the 33rds, I’ve been able to collect a great deal of information about. I usually reproduce their 33rd obituary in a wiki entry. For those that don’t know, the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite has published excellent obituaries of departed 33rds for a number of years. Often they are my first stop when researching someone. From there I will use a variety of electronic and print resources tobuild a profile of the person.
Bishop Frederic W. Keator – Imperial Shrine connection
David Forbes – 33˚ and Treasurer for the Valley of Grand Rapids
Clarence U. Clark – 33˚ and Secretary for the Valley of Grand Rapids
Clayton Hoffman – Saladin Potentate and circus founder
Fred A. Hines – Past Imperial Potentate from CA
Conrad V. Dykeman – Past Imperial Potentate from NY
Leonard James Hill – 33˚, Lou Winsor wrote his obit
Sherman Gregg – 33˚, MD from Kalamazoo
George King Phillips – GR Mason with unknown connection to Lou
Richard D. Swartout – 33˚ from Grand Rapids
Richard O. Sharon – Shriner in photo from collection
Clifford Ireland – Shriner, Congressman, and Spanish War Veteran
Ignacio Mariscal - 33˚, Mexican writer, diplomat, Active of Mexican Supreme Council 33˚
Alexander Gilliland – 33˚ from PA and member of Jesters Royal Court.
Benjamin W. Rowell – 33˚, Active, Imperial Recorder for Shrine for 30 years.
John Rex Thompson – Shriner and Shipbuilder from the West coast.
James C. McCandless – Shriner and Hawaiian landowner
Photos I’ve posted but yet to develop bios for:
Glen P. Thayer, 33˚ of Grand Rapids.
George G. Steketee, 33˚ of Grand Rapids.
Charles W. Mixer, Grand Master R&SM of MI 1924
George H. Green, Imperial Potentate 1903, Dallas, TX
I still have more photos from the collection to post and research. I’m always on the lookout for that nugget of information in a brother’s biography that creates a nexus between his story and Lou’s. With a person’s story complete, the portrait truly comes alive.If you happen to know or learn something about any of these brothers, please feel free to contribute.
Until next time brothers…
-The Masonic Historian