2012-03-15 / Front Page

Pre-Civil War sword found in time capsule search at Roscommon Masonic Lodge

By Krista Tacey-Cater


‘LODGE HEIRLOOM’ Roscommon Masonic Lodge Worshipful Master Rick Richardson (left) and Secretary Jerry Frost stand with the pre-Civil War sword that was found in the former Masonic Lodge on Lake Street. Richardson said the sword was made in 1859 and could have been used in battle. (Photo by Krista Tacey-Cater) ‘LODGE HEIRLOOM’ Roscommon Masonic Lodge Worshipful Master Rick Richardson (left) and Secretary Jerry Frost stand with the pre-Civil War sword that was found in the former Masonic Lodge on Lake Street. Richardson said the sword was made in 1859 and could have been used in battle. (Photo by Krista Tacey-Cater) While cleaning out the former Masonic Lodge in Roscommon, Mason Worshipful Master Rick Richardson found more than he bargained for while preparing the building for a new owner to take over the Lake Street property.

Over one month ago, Richardson said he and other Masons were searching for a time capsule that was buried at the lodge in 1983. During the search, Richardson said he needed something long to prod the ground with to help him find the buried time capsule. While searching for something long he began moving objects around and found a pre-Civil War sword dating back to 1859.


WATER DAMAGE Although great care was taken to ensure the time capsule was in a concrete “baby crypt” Richardson said the Masons who buried the time capsule did not consider waterproofing the items. Most of the items were lost because they were simply put in a garbage bag. WATER DAMAGE Although great care was taken to ensure the time capsule was in a concrete “baby crypt” Richardson said the Masons who buried the time capsule did not consider waterproofing the items. Most of the items were lost because they were simply put in a garbage bag. “It’s a lodge heirloom,” Richardson said. “It’s quite a keepsake, we will just hold on to it.”

He added since he has not had time to research the sword, the only information he has on it is from the sword’s markings. He said the sword was made in Massachusetts and that is really all he knows about it.

He speculates the sword was made for a Calvary officer and that it saw action in battle. Upon close inspection he said he noticed “triangular nicks” on the blade edge of the sword.

He suspects the only way those nicks could have gotten on the sword was from another sword of like strength that struck it in battle.


ONE OF A FEW One of the only items to stay in “good” condition in the Masonic Lodge time capsule that was buried in 1983 were a few old books in freezer bags according to Richardson. (Photos by Krista Tacey-Cater) ONE OF A FEW One of the only items to stay in “good” condition in the Masonic Lodge time capsule that was buried in 1983 were a few old books in freezer bags according to Richardson. (Photos by Krista Tacey-Cater) Before he was aware of exactly how old the sword was and what he had, he said he used it to help locate the time capsule.

“I’m poking it down in the ground like an idiot,” Richardson said.

Eventually Richardson found the time capsule and was “disappointed” with what he found.

He said the Masons who buried the time capsule in 1983 took great measurers to entomb the time capsule in a “baby crypt” made of concrete.

However, once the 300-pound concrete lid of the tomb was lifted he said the contents of the time capsule were ruined.

“Waterproofing really wasn’t consid- ered,” Richardson said. “They just had it in a garbage bag, it was all black mold.”

What Richardson said he could not understand was why the Masons took such care and spent so much money on a concrete crypt and they didn’t take the time to keep it watertight as the contents were in three inches of water.

Some of the contents Richardson was able to identify through the mush of old papers and mold were hundreds of baseball cards from the 1970’s and 80’s, a paper weight, a Mason fez hat, old newspapers, and old documents and books in freezer bags.

Richardson believes the contents of the time capsule were donated by the Masons and from people in the Village of Roscommon. As far as the sword, he believes it was donated to the lodge long ago by a former member or from a member’s widow.

The plans for the contents of the building, the sword and the items in the time capsule is to keep them in storage until a new lodge has been found.

He said the intention of the Masons who buried the time capsule was to open the crypt in 2083 on the Lodge’s centennial anniversary. However, he said because of financial restraints the lodge was forced to sell the building and property.

He added when the Rebekahs and the Eastern Star group left the building and stopped paying rent financial difficulty set in for the Masons. He added although the Masons are a non-profit it is still required to pay property taxes and the group could not afford the expenses.

“The taxes were so much, we were in commercial district, we couldn’t pay the property taxes it was that simple…In order to survive as a lodge we had to get rid of our ship,” Richardson said. “We will just get a new vessel.”

He added the lodge is just the shell of the Masons and said the charter that was established in 1883 is what makes the Masons the oldest organization in Roscommon County. Although the lodge was built in 1890 he said the building was not a registered historical site and although it is hard to leave the building he said the charter will still go on.

“We are in a transition,” Richardson said as the group now meets at the Houghton Lake Masonic Lodge for the time being.

Eventually, Richardson said the plan is to either relocate or build a new lodge. He said this time of transition should not deter people from taking on membership.

He said those interested in becoming a Mason can call him at 275-5957.

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