Brother Samuel Clemens, Master Mason of the Polar Star Lodge #79


Polar Star Lodge #79
Polar Star Lodge #79
"The Masonic lodge with which Twain affiliated in 1861 was Polar Star Lodge Number Seventy-nine of Saint Louis, the largest in the state. Among its members were many river pilots, and this fact undoubtedly contributed to Twain's decision to join." [1]

Here is Twain's letter/petition for membership into the Polar Star Lodge #79:
Samuel Clemens requests Freemasonry membership

On December 26, 1860, his petition was presented to the Polar Star Lodge. Then on February 18, 1861, the members of the lodge elected Twain to receive his first degree in order to become a brethren of the Free Masons.

He moved rapidly through the Three Degrees of Masonry.
- Initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 22
- Moved to Fellow Craft on June 12
- Then became Master Mason and a full member on July 10th

Shortly after becoming a member, Twain then left abruptly for Nevada and began his journey of "roughing it". He didn't even say goodbye to his Polar Star Lodge brethren but instead just asked for a demit from the Secretary for his absence.

"During those years when Mark Twain was "roughing it" in the West, his fraternal activities were apparently at a minimum. There is evidence that he paid a visit to the Chinese Free Mason Hall in Carson City; his mining partner Calvin Higbie, has described how Twain revealed his Masonic membership by giving - although with comic exaggeration - the fraternal "grand hailing sign of distress." At this point, Twain did not take his role as a Mason seriously and was removed from the organization for the most part. However, upon returning to St. Louis, he petitioned for readmission and was reinstated on April 21, 1867.

"Twain became engaged to Olivia Langdon, and all other interests soon seemed relatively unimportant. Masonry being among the victims, the subsequent history of Twain's fraternal activities can be summed up briefly: on October 8, 1869, he wrote the Polar Star Lodge from Buffalo, New York, asking for a demit. This was granted and the erstwhile Master Mason remained a nonaffiliate for the rest of his life."
  1. ^ Jones, Alexander. American Literature , Vol. 26, No. 3 (Nov., 1954), pp. 363-373. JSTOR