Thursday, September 3, 2009

1944 Masonic Funeral

When Edgar Beam died in 1944, his funeral included a graveyard service by fellow Masons, pictured here as they gathered around Edgar's grave in the cemetery at Sandy Springs Baptist Church in Itawamba County. Notice the men's sashes and aprons. I am not an expert, but from what I understand there is a special funeral service conducted by members of the Masonic fraternity. The service is ritualistic in nature. For instance, the white apron is the "badge" of a Mason and is often draped on the casket or worn by the deceased while the Masons involved in the funeral ceremony wear their own aprons. The aprons are also called lambskins and are symbolic of innocence and the purity of life. In some locales, sprigs of evergreen, which represent immortality, are laid on the casket or grave, and it appears from this picture that Edgar's grave may be covered in evergreen branches. Some lodges also require that a hat be worn by the Masonic attendees as a sign of respect, and the sashes are usually worn by Masons who have attained the special rank of Master Mason. If I've gotten this wrong, please correct me.

Elbert Edgar Beam was born March 2, 1880 to Samuel Thomas Beam and Nancy Jane Cromeans. He was married to Minnie Lou Johnson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Johnson and Laura Elizabeth Jamerson. Don Dulaney, Edgar's great-grandson, provided the very interesting photograph which gives us a glimpse into funeral customs of an earlier time in Itawamba County.


Alice Jones said...

Wow!!! That's great article!! The most impressive part of a Masonic funeral is that most often it is attended by many people who never actually met the deceased. The fact that Masons consider each other Brothers drive many miles to show their respect and affection through their attendance and support of the deceased's family.

Don Dulaney said...

Thanks for sharing and as usual doing the proper research to let us know what a picture is all about. My moms family will have a whole new appreciation for this picture.

Anonymous said...

I remember riding from Bexar into Hamilton one summer evening where Granddaddy Morman Stone would attend a Masonic meeting. I was young enough to have no clue of what "a Masonic meeting" meant! This "meeting house" was upstairs over a grocery store facing onto the Marion County Courthouse square. My Granny Kate (Robinson) Stone never uttered a word during this whole time that we sat in the car waiting for Granddaddy to return. So, why do I remember this night? You have to remember that Granddaddy was a rural mail carrier and his car took a beating up on those unpaved county roads around Shottsville and Bull Mountain and as he drove home to Bexar that night, the headlights kept flickering off and on and he drove a number of those miles in the dark (very slowly!). We did make it back to their house, but for a long time I wondered "what that meeting was all about" that left such a "spell" over him and the car!! I learned that evening that you don't ask questions of a Mason, and they wont tell you anything - but they are loyal to one another. bettye