Sunday, November 6, 2011

Famous Members of Mount Hermon Lodge

Vance was a member of one of North Carolina's most important Masonic families, and he was near Masons and active in the Craft most of his 65 years. On February 4, 1853, at the age of 23, Vance petitioned Mt. Hermon Lodge #118 in Asheville. He received both the Second and Third Degrees on June 20, 1853. His Mt. Hermon Lodge Brothers M. Patton, I. W. Dunn, and Joshia Roberts comprised the investigating committee. Vance was active in Mount Hermon Lodge, serving as Secretary, Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, and Junior Warden pro tem. Records show he was absent from meetings “only a few times” over many years, and he helped revise his Lodge’s bylaws.

Besides being governor of North Carolina, from 1879 until his death, Zeb served in the United States Senate. He died April 14, 1894, a day when just about everything in North Carolina stopped. To the people of a state who dearly loved him, the only thing Zeb ever did wrong was die. On April 18, 1894, Bros. E. I. Holmes, W. R. Heston, M. W.Robertson, W. F. Randolph, and 129 other Freemasons, including Bro. Sam Wittkowsky, walked in the escort procession carrying Brother Vance to Riverside Cemetery, Asheville. There a crowd of 10,000 had gathered despite a heavy downpour. Strangely, there was no Masonic funeral ceremony. All knew that America had lost a mighty champion and friend.

At high noon on Thursday, April 14, 2005, 44 Masons and guests met on the 111th anniversary of Zeb's death to carry out a long overdue (and proper) Masonic burial service for our esteemed brother. When Brother Vance died in 1894, he was not properly buried with Masonic rights (as all Masonic brothers should be). He was dug up and reburied, then dug up again and reburied back in the previous spot... all without a proper Masonic burial! It is a testament to Brother Zeb's legacy that 111 years after his death, this oversight still mattered to his N.C. Masonic brethren and now, his final resting place is adorned with a marker acknowledging that he is "A HERO AMONG MASONS."

Brother Halsey B. Leavitt -

Business executive and commander-in-chief of United Spanish War Veterans, 1945-46. b. July 25, 1878 at Essex Junction, Vt. From 1899-1920 he was reporter, editor, and correspondent of newspapers in Havana, Cuba. Since 1921 has been president of Leavitt Insurance Co., Asheville, N.C. Served as sergeant in 9th Illinois Infantry in Spanish-American War. Served on board of Trustees for University of North Carolina at Asheville 1950-1958. He also ran for the US Senate in 1950. Member of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 118, Asheville, N.C. being raised Sept. 15, 1921. A past district deputy grand master and 33° AASR (SJ) in Valley of Asheville.

Brother Thomas J. Harkins-

Born in Buncombe County, N.C., January 15, 1879. Son of Herschel S. Harkins and Sarah Jane (Jones) Harkins; married 1904 to Roxy Seevers. Republican. Lawyer (1901 on); delegate to Republican National Convention from North Carolina, 1916; 1917-18 he was a captain in the North Carolina Reserve Infantry; Special Assistant United States Attorney 1922-1926; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, 1927-31. Also was a trustee of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering and also Trustee of the Masonic Oxford Orphanage. Methodist. Member, American Bar Association; American Academy of Political and Social Science; Freemasons (Master of Mt Hermon Lodge 1926); Knights Templar; Shriners; Scottish Rite (Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction 1952-1955); Woodmen. Burial location unknown, believed to have died during the late 1960's.

Mount Hermon Lodge #118 was chartered in 1848 by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Housed in the Asheville Masonic Temple, our Stated Communication meets on the first Thursday of each month with an open dinner at 6:30pm and the meeting following at 7:30pm.