CHAPTER XIVATTENDING A MASONIC CONCLAVE IN KENTUCKY.
THE latter part of August, 1901, I took the girls with me to
attend the Masonic Conclave in Louisville, Ky. On the way, we
stopped a day in Chattanooga, and spent the morning on Lookout
Mountain. The incline is even steeper than that of Mount Royal
in Montreal, and from an eminence of eighteen hundred feet, we
viewed seven States in the distance, and admired the Great Chieftain's
Foot, outlined by the Tennessee River, directly below. We went
out to Chickamauga in the afternoon, passing in full view of Missionary
Ridge, and catching frequent glimpses of Lookout, with its incline
and sharply defined point. Many of the monuments on the battlefield
are exceedingly handsome, with Georgia over-topping them all.
The Park embraces five thousand acres, which the Government is
constantly employed in improving.
Taking the night train for Louisville, we reached there just
in time to witness the grand parade at ten o'clock the following
morning. I was not sorry upon being too late to "join the
march," after learning the length of the procession. For
over two hours we stood in the sun on Main Street watching the
gorgeous array of Masons from all parts of the Union. I have been
a member of this Fraternity for over forty years, having joined
the Blue Lodge in 1870. The Council, Chapter, and Commandery followed,
and now I have outlived the dues in all but the latter.
The daily sessions of the Conclave proved most enjoyable to
all devotees of Freemasonry, while the evening concerts and receptions
were pleasant occasions.
It was interesting looking around the city, and going out to
Cave Hill Cemetery, but the gem of our sightseeing was the great
Leaving Louisville at two A.M., with an hour's wait at Glasgow
junction, ten miles from our destination, nine o'clock found us
on the Cave Hotel veranda attired in "under-ground rig."
We only took the four hours' tramp, standing it very well,
but when the heated air from without struck us upon our return
to "Mother Earth" a general collapse followed.
The wonders within were numerous, such as the Giant's Coffin,
Elephant Heads, Star Chamber, Bottomless Pit, Breakback Stairs,
Throne Chair, Martha Washington's Bust, etc. Then we saw the two
huts, in which consumptives are said to have lived for two years,
the typhoid-fever springs, and the man's face in the spring.
The State Monuments are things of interest if not always of
beauty, and on many of them our party placed stones, as well as
those of the different orders and societies.
A Brother Knight from South Dakota, whom the girls had met
while on their European trip the year previous, joined us in these
pleasures, and returned home with us for a visit, twice repeated
So genial and thoroughly gentlemanly is this friend of ours,
that we only wish he might oftener span the two thousand miles
between the Dakotas and Alabama.
The next convention in order was at Norfolk, Va. On the way
over we stopped in Atlanta, on account of not being able to secure
a Pullman berth. Upon arriving in Norfolk, we went first to the
Monticello Hotel, which had been selected as Headquarters, but
afterwards located on Olney Road, a clean, new part of the city.
Being so far out, we spent the day in town, just returning to
our lodging-place at night. Of course, at our first opportunity,
we went around to see the beautiful old St. Paul's Church in its
thick mantle of ivy, with only one clearing to show the cannonball
put in by Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, while bombarding
the city in Revolutionary times. The church was built in 1739,
and in a small room adjoining the auditorium was John Randolph's
arm-chair. Several of our party seated themselves in it for a
short while, trying to realize how this great-great-grandson of
the Princess Pocahontas used to feel when he sat therein.
We found some very ancient tombstones in the churchyard, one
being dated 1691. Another bore this inscription:
"Here lyeth the body of Mr. Robert Crooks, merchant of
this towne, who dyed Sept. 22, 1771. Aged 33.
In Life Esteemed in Death Lamented."
One Sunday while in Norfolk, we attended the Freemason Street
Baptist Church with the whole body at morning service, then Frances
took me to Senior and Junior League meetings in the afternoon
at a church of our own denomination and again to another Baptist
Church at night. We were being good that day!
On May 16th, we were given an excursion on Hampton Roads, and
two large boats were placed at our disposal; one of them very
large, but both were overcrowded, and lunches ran short. So, upon
landing at Old Point Comfort, quite a number of us went to the
Chamberlain for dinner. It is a mammoth structure built facing
the water, and extending some distance over it, and contains more
than one thousand sleeping apartments, its lower floors being
fitted up with surpassing beauty and luxuriousness.
Looking out upon the broad expanse of Hampton Roads from the
dancing pavilion, one sees where the naval duel of the Merrimac
and the Monitor was fought in 1862, and where takes
place annually the naval rendezvous of the North Atlantic squadron.
Near the hotel is an entire fence of revolutionary cannon,
guns, and bayonets, a fitting guide-post to the near-by war treasures
of Fortress Monroe, whose wall is a mile and three quarters in
length. Just outside stands the Army Y. M. C. A. presented to
the soldiers and sailors by Miss Helen Gould, and not far away
is the Officers' School.
Passing over the moat on the drawbridge, and entering within
the walls, we were first shown the prison in which Jefferson Davis
was confined, also the one in which they keep deserters, there
being over a hundred at that time. The Commander's headquarters
was next shown, with officers' headquarters on every side, and
the extensive barracks.
Revolutionary relics abound in Trophy Park, which is a charming
spot. Eight hundred soldiers are usually quartered in the fortress,
but during encampments there are often as many as three thousand,
when tents are pitched about the grounds for additional accommodations.
Returning to our boats, we went over to Newport News, where
we expected to find some ancient landmarks, but were surprised
to see a new town, and learned that there were only two old houses,
one being a church and the other a dwelling. We visited the extensive
dry docks, and as we were walking around all the time, I got hungry.
A man passed, trundling a cart, and I hailed him. He had only
one pie, for which I paid a nickle, but after "making away
with it," found myself more ravenous than ever. Finally we
got back into the town, and had supper at a restaurant. It was
We had a delightful trip by trolley to Virginia Beach, seeing
Cape Henry on the route with its toilsome
sand-hills and lighthouses, from whose height a charming view
makes amends for the horrors of the ascent of its tortuous winding
stairway. Virginia Beach presents a long stretch of uniform beach
without an inlet, or slightest rise to break the monotony of parallel
lines of sand and waves, while the Princess Anne Hotel conforms
exactly on the ledge above. While lacking the picturesqueness
of some coast views, it presents a very attractive glimpse of
Another trip took us to Ocean View, again to "Old Poynt
Comfort" (in the spelling of Sir Christopher Newport about
the year 1608) and to Hampton. Between the latter town and Newport
News, we stopped at old St. John's Church, built in 1656. I noticed
especially a window showing the baptism of Pocahontas, and the
pew in which President Tyler used to sit when worshipping there.
While looking around, we met an old soldier, who guided us to
the National Soldiers' Home. We reached there in time to see them
set the tables for supper, and were highly entertained at the
military precision of all their movements. Eleven hundred and
seventy sat down at once, but the total number in the institution
was thirty-two hundred. Several of the men were engaged in making
ready, and every plate was slapped down just exactly at the same
time, and so with the knives, forks, and bowls. We were told that
they consumed thirteen barrels of flour, six hundred pounds of
butter, one hundred and eighty pounds of cheese, and seventeen
hundred gallons of coffee in one day. The cooking-range and all
the culinary vessels were on an immense scale. All who engaged
in the house or kitchen work were paid wages, but the guide was
only entitled to his "tips."
Near by is the Indian School, built over the spot where Pocahontas
saved the life of Captain John Smith three centuries ago. Negroes
are also admitted, as not many of the Indians take advantage of
this fine opportunity for an education. Quite a variety of useful
trades are taught outside of the regular school curriculum.
Crossing to Willoughby Spit by boat, near the mouth of the
James River, we saw the ruins of an ancient fort that goes by
the name of "Rip Raps." We took the street car into
At my first opportunity, I went over to Portsmouth to see the
Navy Yard. Securing a permit to go aboard the battleship Texas,
we found so much of interest that we remained some time. The spot
where the cannon-ball hit the vessel during the engagement at
Santiago could be plainly seen. Frances was inquiring about shells
and one of the officers, pointing to the shore, told her she would
find a quantity there that had been brought over from the Philippines
by the Texas as ballast. She lost no time in getting there, and
picked up quite a number. We saw a good many ancient guns at the
Navy Yard, some that had been used in the Revolutionary War, others
dating back even to the War of 1812, and an old gun-carriage that
was captured from the Chinese.
We also took a run to Richmond. When the Convention was held
there, I didn't care to go, and that was the only one I missed
from Chicago to Detroit, covering a period of twenty-three years.
Frances had always grieved about not going, and when we visited
there, just raved over the beauty of the place and its rare historic
mementos. There is St. John's Church, in which Patrick Henry stood
in 1775 and proclaimed, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
It is an "old-timey " 'frame building in a quaint setting,
the old cemetery being raised perhaps six feet above the pavement.
The church was built in 1741, and has a shallow rotunda effect
within. About six blocks away stands the Old Stone House, Washington's
Headquarters, so tiny and odd and interesting! Outside, black
gables, dark shutters, dingy roof, and time-marked walls; within,
such funny little rooms and hall-ways, adorned with innumerable
autographs, old sabres, and canteens. One may well believe it
was built in 1699, and that most of the original remains.
Then there is the former "White House of the Confederacy"
built in 1819. In 1862, Richmond offered it to President Davis,
but upon his refusal to accept the gift, it was rented by the
Confederate Government as the Executive Mansion, though the Davis
family also resided there.
At the time of our visit, the Confederate Museum had occupied
the building for six years and offered a most interesting collection.
One could spend several days profitably in studying its treasures,
and it is said that 7400 visitors registered there in one year.
On Capitol Hill we saw the Capitol building, Governor's residence,
the Washington and Jackson monuments, and then went out to Hollywood
Cemetery. From afar the lofty flag proclaims the resting-place
of eighteen thousand Confederate soldiers. We halted some time
at the Davis lot, talking and thinking of bygone days. The statue
on Jeff Davis's tomb is of bronze, and beneath the angel figure
above that of Winnie Davis is the inscription:
"Born in the Executive Mansion. Died 1898." We saw
also the graves of Presidents Monroe and Tyler, Commodore Maury,
and John Randolph.
Two or three hours were pleasantly spent in going out to the
battlefield of Seven Pines. No attempt has been made at adorning
it or beautifying the grounds, so that it all the more forcibly
recalls the horrible scenes enacted there nearly fifty years ago.
It actually gives one a "creepy sensation," which other
battlefields fail to do. Perhaps the very fact of its being of
forsaken and neglected appearance accounts for this. It is estimated
that between eleven and twelve hundred bodies have never been
taken up. The Federal breastworks forming the angle of the Bloody
V are still clearly outlined, though the highest portion is now
not over three feet, while it was originally six feet high and
one and a half miles in length. Within that space, three quarters
of a mile, during the two battles of May 31st and June 1st, lay
the bodies of fifteen thousand soldiers, and a river of blood
flowed down the incline. Three other engagements were fought there
with a sum total of 64,000 killed. We saw where Gordon broke through
the ranks and made a successful charge, saw the rose bush on the
breastworks at the time of the battles, and the old well, but
the house is said to have been carried away, piece by piece, for
In the National Cemetery, just across the road, out of the
1387 soldiers buried there, 1225 are unknown.
This road was formerly the old Powhatan Indian trail from Jamestown
to Richmond, and just a short distance beyond the cemetery is
the old Hillyard farm, completely riddled with bullet holes.
Returning to the city we completed our sightseeing in Richmond
with a visit to St. Paul's, the church attended by General Lee
and President Davis, where the latter was when the news reached
him of the surrender of the former. It was said that Mr. Davis
left the church without speaking a word.
The only special event in Norfolk after our return, I believe,
was Memorial Day exercises. The Convention was in session in the
morning but adjourned for the afternoon. In the procession were
quite a number of old veterans, and many sections of schoolboys
dressed in white made a fine display. One school won a $50.00
prize for being the best drilled.
But home-coming was near at hand, and as we bade good-bye to
the red-clover fields of Virginia, we felt that memory would ever
accord to her one of the "high places" in our list of
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