The Pilgrim Monument
Laying Of The Cornerstone


"On Saturday, November 21, 1620, there came to anchor in what is now Provincetown harbor a small vessel of one hundred and eighty tons. She carried as passengers one hundred two men, women and children - poor and in exile, but so loving God, so brave to worship Him in the way they thought right, that they had knowingly chosen to risk death in a wilderness rather than yield themselves to spiritual despotism. In her cabin, within sight of Cape Cod and probably within Provincetown's harbor, was signed the document whose essential principle is the firm and enduring basis of American constitutional government. For five weeks the Pilgrim Fathers lived here, making this harbor their base of operations in finding a permanent location to settle. On this spot on August 20, 1907 was laid with Masonic ceremonies, the corner stone of a fitting national memorial to that Mayflower Compact and the men who made it.

But in a broader sense, the nation that paid this tribute is the Pilgrim Fathers greatest monument - and for that monument they themselves laid the cornerstone. History tells us of no Masons among them, but it safe to say that no band of men ever more fully expressed in their own lives the masonic tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth; or the four cardinal Masonic virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. As these qualities were necessary to earlier Masons to preserve their very existence, so they were necessary to the Pilgrims to preserve their State. In both cases these qualities were the elements of a great and uplifting human movement because they were in character of the men who made it. The men who came together to form the pilgrim congregation at Leyden were brave, prudent, temperate and just men, or they could never have become the advance guard of the great Puritan exodus from England in the seventeenth century. The men from whose union first came masonry, possessed and exemplified these virtues, or masonry could never have been instituted. In laying the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument the masonry of that day did more than exercise an honorable and long cherished custom. It recognized its essential kinship with those humble, sagacious, God-fearing founders of the American Republic."


The minutes of King Hiram's Lodge A.F. & A.M. record a special communication being held on April 8, 1907 its purpose being to see what action the lodge would take on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument. A committee of five was appointed by W.M. H.A. Wippich consisting of P.M. Moses N. Gifford, P.M. Artemus P. Hannum, Bros. William H. Young, Dr. A.S. Macleod and F.D. Baker. They were to report at the next regular communication.

It was no coincidence that these men were chosen, as all five were trustees and members of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association whose efforts had culminated in this event. The work of King Hirams Lodge and its membership had actually started fifty years prior to this when presiding Master Joseph Prosper Johnson a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Charles C. Hazewell, editor of the Boston Traveller submitted a report presented in the Massachusetts Senate in 1852 recommending an appropriation of three thousand dollar for the erection of monument on "High Pole Hill" Provincetown, to commemorate the Pilgrim landfall. This resolve failed and the project was deferred for more than half a century. A few years later through the efforts of Chief Justice Shaw of Barnstable a marble tablet was placed in the front of Town Hall, Provincetown which then stood upon the hill - recording the incidents which have made the town historically famous.

This tablet was destroyed in the burning of Town Hall, February 16, 1877, but in excavating the foundation of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument in the summer of 1907 small fragments of the stone were unearthed.

Early in 1892 through the efforts of then past masters Artemus Hannum, Moses Gifford and Bros. Joseph Dyer, Myrick Atwood and others formed an organization for the purpose of collecting funds for the building of a monument. They assumed the name of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association and on February 29, 1892 were incorporated under that designation. In July of 1901 Bros., Gifford and Adams enlisted the aid of Capt. J.Henry Sears of the Pilgrim Club of Brewster to arouse an interest throughout Cape Cod in the project. Capt. Sears' success resulted in the merging of the Association and the Pilgrim Club with P.M. Gifford as president and Capt. Sears as chairman of the board of directors. Less than a year after the reorganization the amount in the treasury had more than doubled. Meantime the directors had decided to enlist the interest in the General Court in the project.

A petition was drawn and presented to obtain an appropriation of public monies in the session of 1902. At the same time by vote of the people of Provincetown the sight known as Town Hill or High Pole Hill in the center of town was deeded to the Association as a sight for the monument. A resolve that twenty five thousand dollars be appropriated was passed by both Houses and signed by Gov. Crane in February 1902, contingent on possession of equal funds by the Association by July 5, 1905. Of the amount required the town of Provincetown contributed five thousand dollars, the rest being collected through fund raising efforts and subscriptions. Active and persistent efforts were also underway to procure passage of an act of Congress making appropriations for this object. The activities of the president and directors of the Association took three successive terms of Congress and a bill was passed providing payment of forty thousand dollars from the Treasury of the United States signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in June of 1906. The pen with which the act was signed was presented to the association is now in the Pilgrim Monument Museum.

The directors of the association were empowered with making all the necessary arrangements for the laying of the cornerstone and work upon the foundation was begun on June 20, 1907 by the Aberthaw Construction Company of Boston. The excavation for the foundation was sixty feet square and had a depth of eight feet below the surface of the ground. The foundation was a solid mass of concrete, reinforced at five inch intervals with layers of twisted steel rods placed eighteen inches apart. At each of the four corners arose six rods of twisted steel which were securely fixed in the concrete far below the surface. Above the surface of the ground the foundation rose to a height of five feet , but gradually lessening in superficial area until at the top it reached the dimensions of twenty-eight feet square. The material taken from the excavation was utilized in raising the grade of the surrounding soil to the level of the foundation.

The foundation being thus completed, a derrick was erected upon the northeast corner from which was suspended the cornerstone, a forty eight hundred pound block of North Carolina granite, the gift of the VAN Amringe Granite Co., of Boston.

The Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts and his officers had been invited to perform the formal ceremony of laying the cornerstone by King Hirams Lodge on behalf of the association and had accepted. They were to be escorted by the Sutton Commandry. President Roosevelt at the request of Massachusetts Senators Henry Cabot Lodge and Winthrop Murray Crane and others had consented to make the principal address of the occasion.

The exercises were to be conducted by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, assisted by President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States, and by Curtis Guild, Jr., Governor of Massachusetts both members of the Masonic Fraternity on August fifteenth, the anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Southampton. The directors were obliged to postpone the date to the twentieth on account of the inability of Gov. Curtis to be present by reason of official engagements elsewhere.

President Roosevelt arrived in Provincetown harbor on the morning of August 20 . He had been convoyed from his summer home at Oyster Bay, Long Island by two torpedo boats aboard the presidential yacht which was coincidentally named Mayflower. The yacht was given an anchorage near to the place which tradition assigns as the anchoring place of the historic Mayflower. On entering the harbor the president passed through a lane composed of eight battleships, in two squadrons. The first of these comprising the battleships Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Georgia was commanded by Admiral Thomas; the second, comprising the Alabama, Illinois, Kearsage, and Kentucky, was in command of Admiral Davis, who was also the commander in chief of the entire squadron. As the presidential yacht turned Long Point a signal was given on board the Virginia, when a twenty one gun salute came simultaneously from the eight battleships.

President Roosevelt was received at the town pier by Gov. Guild who had arrived earlier aboard the steamer Newport, with President Sears of the monument association, Chairman Allen of the Provincetown Selectmen, Admirals Davis and Thomas, with the commanders of the battleships in the harbor. From the head of the pier to the summit of Town Hill was lined with marines, a landing party of 1500 having been sent ashore at the request of Capt. Sears to preserve order and to afford protection to the President.

The presidents carriage was preceded by a guard of twenty-five marines, with the same number following. then came Mrs. Roosevelt's carriage. She being accompanied by her daughter Ethel and son Quentin. Upon the hill a platform had been built surrounded on three sides by a grandstand. King Hirams Lodge had procured 100 seats depositing 1.50 for each.

The Lodge opened at 8:30 A.M. on a special communication with all officers and 41 members in attendance and visitors. Wor. Bros. Hannum, Gifford and Young were appointed a committee to meet and escort the M.W. Grand Lodge, and Wor. Bros. Simeon C.Smith and James A. Small to meet the Sutton Commandry, Knights Templars of New Bedford. The special trains conveying the Grand Lodge and its escort were delayed however and it was at last decided to proceed with the formal addresses and hold the ceremonies afterwards. Therefore after prayer by the Rev. Samuel A. Eliot D.D. President Sears of the Monument Association introduced Gov. Guild who made an address and then introduced President Roosevelt.

After the Presidents address President Sears introduced the Right Honorable James Bryce, Ambassador of Great Britain to the United States, Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge and Congressman William C. Lovering of Massachusetts who made statements. The Grand Lodge's procession having arrived at the summit of High Pole Hill the addresses were then followed by the formal ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone. Performed by the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts M.W. J. Albert Blake and assisted by nearly one hundred officers and members of the Grand Lodge . As the Grand Lodge assembled in full regalia, forming a circle about the stone, the Grand Marshall Melvin M. Johnson conveyed to President Roosevelt and Gov. Guild an invitation to assist in the ceremony. Both accepting, they were invested with a purple bordered apron and joined the circle.

A formal request to the Grand Master to proceed was made by President Sears, to which he responded;

Texts of Scripture were then read responsively by the Grand Chaplain, Rev. W.H. Rider D.D. of Gloucester and by the brethren in unison. After the prayer the hymn To the glory of our pilgrim fathers was sung by the Harvard Quartet, of Boston. The Grand Master then directed the Grand Treasurer, R.W. Charles H. Ramsay to read the list of papers and documents contained in a box of copper, to be deposited within the cornerstone. (List Attached) The box was of solid copper, cast without seam and closed by a close-fitting cover of the same material, securely sealed. It was ten by twelve inches in size, with a depth of nine inches. Upon the top was painted the motto - DEO PATRIBUSQUE. Beneath this motto was the Masonic square and compasses. The box was placed within a cavity cut in the lower side of the stone and securely wedged.

The Grand Master taking the trowel, the Deputy Grand Master the square, the Senior Grand Warden the level, and the Junior Grand Warden the plumb assumed their proper positions around the stone. The Grand Master then spread the cement upon a portion of the foundation beneath the stone, passing the trowel to President Roosevelt who followed the example of the Grand Master and passed the trowel to Gov. Guild. Before resuming his place the President shook hands with the operative workmen assisting in the work. Governor Guild next spread the cement, passing the trowel in turn to President Sears of the Pilgrim Monument Association, and he to P.M. Artemus P. Hannum representing King Hirams Lodge of Provincetown. The Grand Master then directed the craftsmen to lower the stone, which was done in three motions - first by lowering a few inches and stopping, when the public Grand Honor was given by the brethren. (clasping of the arms about the body and a low bow) The stone was then lowered a second time, and two Grand Honors were given. It was then lowered to its place upon the foundation, three Grand Honors given, and the stone squared and leveled by the craftsmen. The following ceremony then ensued:

The Deputy Grand Master, Arthur T. Way, received from the Grand Marshall the Vessel of Corn, and pouring the corn on the stone said " May the blessing of the Supreme Architect rest upon the people of these United States, and may the Corn of Nourishment abound in our land."

A stanza of a hymn was sung by the quartet.

The Grand Marshall presented the cup of wine to the Senior Grand Warden, Edward G. Graves, who poured the wine upon the stone, saying;" May the Great Architect of the Universe watch over and preserve the workmen upon this monument and bless them and our land with the Wine of Refreshment and Concord."

A second stanza was sung.

The Grand Marshall presented the Cup of Oil to the acting Junior Grand Warden, David T. Remington, who poured the oil upon the stone, saying; " May the Supreme Ruler of the World bless our land with union, harmony, and love, preserve the people in peace, and vouchsafe to them the enjoyment of every good and perfect gift."

A third stanza was sung.

The Grand Chaplain then pronounced an invocation.

The Grand Marshall then escorted then Past Senior Grand Warden, William B. Lawrence to the Grand Master and said; "I present to you the Architect of this Building. He is ready with craftsmen for the work, and asks the tools for his task."

The Grand Master presented the Square, Level,Plumb, and Plan to the Architect and said; "To you Mr. Architect, are confided the implements of operative Masonry, with the fullest confidence that by your skill an edifice will here arise which shall render new service and honor to this busy city. May it be blessed with Wisdom in the plan, Strength in the execution, Beauty in the adornment; and may the Sun of Righteousness enlighten those who build, the Government and the People for whose use this structure shall be erected."

The Grand Master then introduced Hon. William B. Lawrence who made an address. Following this The Grand Master directed The Grand Marshall to make the proclamation; " In the name of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts I now proclaim that the cornerstone of the structure to be here erected has this day been found square, level, and plumb, true and trusty, and laid according to the old customs by the Grand Master of Masons. This proclamation is made from the east, (trumpet once) the west, (trumpet twice) and the south, (trumpet thrice).

The exercises closed with the singing of the hymn "America" and a benediction by the Grand Chaplain.

The ceremonies being concluded the Grand Lodge and guests were escorted back to King Hirams Lodge on Masonic Place to attend a banquet that had been prepared for them, the lodge being closed " without form" at 3:00 P.M. A large number of members of the lodge were also on the committee which organized the dinner that was held at Town Hall for the other dignitaries in attendance, this involved removing all the seats from the floor of the hall and setting up six tables for some six hundred guests. the gallery also being filled with onlookers to hear the after-dinner exercises. Speakers included Rev. R. Perry Bush, D.D.,Ambassador Bryce and the poet of the day Nathan Haskell Dole. President Roosevelt however was obliged to leave before the conclusion of the evening it being explained that the exercises upon the hill had proved so long that the time fixed for setting sail upon his return voyage was already passed. Soon after another Presidential Salute signaled the departure of the Mayflower from Provincetown's harbor.


All the historical content in these pages researched and compiled by Wor. James J. Theriault, curator of King Hiram's Museum and lodge historian. Any comments concerning content may be sent to James J. Theriault, 541A Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601


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