Abby’s entries from June 1867 continue
Wednesday 19 : Wallace Tucker stopped in Andover to day and Louise and I persuaded her to stay all night. We went to a concert at our school in the evening. It was miserable and I didn’t have a bit nice time.
Thursday 20: Louise got all ready to go up to Mrs. Johnson’s reception but it rained so hard she couldn’t go. Hattie Baker and I went over to Lawrence about 5 oclock.
Friday June 21: Went to walk with Hattie after tea. Met Marys Morton and Means. They had been up to my house and had met G & K on the street. Mr. Frye was there when I came home.
Saturday 22: Went over to Miss Phebe’s room after school to have a talk with her. She gave me two or three little books to read and I am glad I went. Mr. and Mrs. Burtt called in the evening to invite us to a picnic on the 4th.
Monday June 24: St. John’s Day. The Free Masons had a grand time in Boston to day. Father was in the procession. He wanted Louise and I to go down but it was so warm we didn’t.
Fraternal organizations possessed a strong appeal for American men in the late 19th century. Semi-secret societies like the Masons, the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias, their total membership numbering in the millions, used elaborate rituals to unite its members in bonds of brotherhood that were, of course, also useful as social and business connections. In Andover, St. Matthew’s Lodge of Masons, whose charter dated to 1822, had survived a mid-century anti-Masonic movement (led in part by professors at the Andover Theological Seminary) in which they had been forced to go underground, and enjoyed a surge in applicants after the Civil War.
Abby’s father Samuel B. Locke was a member of the Knights Templar– a branch of American Masons who professed a belief in the Christian religion. He maintained his affiliation with the Boston “Commandery” from around the time of Abby’s birth (in 1851) until his death in 1901, and apparently did not join the Andover lodge.
On June 24, 1867 (St, John’s Day or the Freemason’s anniversary), the Masons dedicated a new temple on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets, to replace a previous building that had been destroyed by fire in 1864. The new building was a massive, Gothic structure, with seven stories above the basement and a 121-foot octagonal tower rising from each corner. It included three large meeting rooms, decorated “respectively in the Corinthian, Egyptian, and Gothic styles” as well as three large banqueting halls and many ante-rooms, small halls and offices. An estimated 12,000 Masons (“a larger number of Masons than were ever before brought together in any part of the world or period of time”) from more than 200 Massachusetts and New England lodges, marched in full regalia from Boston Common to the Boston Music Hall. Also present on that day was sitting President Andrew Johnson, who reportedly took the opportunity to hold the “Washington Bible” on which George Washington (also a fully-participating Mason) had taken his oath of office at his first inauguration.