GEORGE GIRDLER SMITH 1795-1878
- MM 1819, WM 1826, 1827, 1829, 1842-1845, Columbian
- WM 1847-1849, The Massachusetts
- Grand Pursuivant, 1826-1829
- Senior Grand Steward, 1830-1833, 1840, 1845, 1847
- Deputy Grand Master, 1838-1840
NEW ENGLAND HISTORICAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY, 1907
From Memorial Biographies Volume, 1907:
George Girdler Smith, of Boston, a resident member from 1855, was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, September 8, 1795, and died in Boston, December 18, 1878. His grandfather, Silas Smith, who died in Danvers, in the year 1806, was successfully engaged in privateering in the early part of the Revolutionary War. He was, however, captured by a British cruiser, and confined, with four of his sons, in Forton prison, near Portsmouth, England.
George Girdler Smith, his father, was with the American Army at the siege of Boston, was subsequently with Arnold in his expedition against Canada, and with Washington in the Jerseys and at Valley Forge. He was also a prisoner in England with his father and brothers. The mother of this George was Sarah Girdler, of Marblehead, and his wife, and the mother of the subject of this sketch was Sarah Ashton, also of that place.
George Girdler Smith.came to Boston when a young man, and in 1818 became a member of the Boston Light Infantry. In the year 1819 he was initiated a Freemason in Columbian Lodge, and in 1826 became its master, holding the position, at intervals for seven years. He was an honorary member of the lodge; subsequently master of the Massachusetts Lodge, and deputy grand master. As a Freemason he was held in high esteem by his brethren for his ability in the conferring of degrees, and for the felicity of his occasional addresses. In 1845, '46, '47, he was president of the Massachusetts CharitableMechanics Association. He was also a member of the school committee, and took an active part in public affairs. But it was as an artist that Mr. Smith was best known. His occupation as an engraver, in which for many years he stood first in his profession in Boston, and his success in water colors,though removing him in a measure from active life, made him an educator in these refining and useful arts. "His work is valued now by connoisseurs, and will always he considered important in the history of the advance of this community in the fine arts."
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1878
From Proceedings, Page 1878-188:
"Once more we bring the tribute of respect and affection to the memory of a Venerable and Honorable Brother. But the sad duty is attended with many pleasing reminiscences. A long and useful life is rounded with a calm and peaceful end. For more than fourscore years he walked modestly, faithfully, firmly, in the path of duty, diffusing light, and imparting knowledge to all within his circle. He fought the good fight, he kept the faith, and now he sleeps the sleep of the blessed.
Like a shock of corn fully ripe, he is gathered home; and our sorrow is sweetly tempered by the fragrant memories of a wellspent life, and the bright vision of that crown of rejoicing which shall continue when time shall be no more. We do well to improve these frequent opportunities of reviewing the lives of departed Brethren and recording our tribute of gratitude and praise. We come round the table of memory to banquet on the good deeds of others, and to grow good ourselves by that on which we feed.
"Brother Smith was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, September 8, 1795. He was initiated in Columbian Lodge, November 4,1819, and admitted to membership, May 5, 1820. He served as Senior Deacon, in 1821, and from that time until 1855, was almost constantly in office in that Lodge, or in the Grand Lodge. He was Worshipful Master of Columbian Lodge for seven years; namely, in 1826, '27, '29, '42, '43, '44, and '45. After his service in the last-named year, he acted as Master of Massachusetts Lodge, and was largely instrumental in reviving that old Lodge from the depression caused by the anti-Masonic opposition, and restoring it to its former vigor. He was greatly admired for his ease, grace, and dignity in the chair; for his accurate and impressive rendering of the ritual; and for his appropriate and instructive Masonic addresses delivered on various occasions. His Masonic work was characterized by the same accuracy of drawing and exquisiteness of finish which distinguished the masterpieces of the engraver's art that came from his hand, and placed him at the very head of his profession. Perfect work was his aim in everything that he undertook. He was a man of strong convictions, and decided opinions, confident of his own judgment, and prompt and energetic in execution. In the chair he was literally the ruling spirit. No mean or selfish motives influenced his Masonic action, and therefore his brethren yielded cheerfully and even approvingly to his wise but somewhat self-asserting rule. In the Grand Lodge, Brother Smith served as Grand Pursuivant from 1826 to 1829 inclusive; as Grand Steward, from 1830 to 1833 inclusive; as a member of the Committee, on Finance, from 1827 to 1832, and again from 1850 to 1854. In 1838, 1839, and 1840, he filled the office of Deputy Grand Master. It will be observed that his Masonic life began seven years before the anti-Masonic excitement broke out, covers the whole period of that mad crusade, the years of depression and inaction which followed, and the years of revival from 1845 to 1855. During all this time he served most faithfully, acceptably, and usefully, in every office assigned to him. When the storm broke out he was a young man, just making for himself a name and fame, dependent wholly upon his own clear head and skillful hands. The good opinion and good will of his townsmen were of great importance and value to him, but he would not gain them by the sacrifice of his convictions of right and duty. He never faltered or flinched, but marched boldly on in the front rank, and never laid his armor off until the battle was over and the vickuy won.
"Through good report and through evil report he remained, firm, and had the happiness to see the Fraternity reach a degree of prosperity which the most sanguine had not dreamed of. At the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, in 1876, he bore triumphant, exultant testimony to his faith in the principles of our Institution, and his pride in the service it had rendered to humanity. But few of the signers of the famous Declaration of 1831 are now left. They who endured the burden of the conflict are fast going to their rest. Every passing gale sighs over another veteran's grave, and ere long the last sage and the last soldier will be seen no more. Soon, too soon, will you seek in vain for even one who can tell you of that day of stout hearts and strong hands. To the memory of one of the most zealous, efficient, and useful of that noble band of Brothers, we here record our tribute of gratitude, admiration, and affection.
FROM LIBERAL FREEMASON, 1878
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. II, No. 10, January 1879, Page 303:
Among the number of long tried and venerated brethren who have ceased from their labors during the year 1878, no one of them was more justly esteemed than Brother George G. Smith. Possessed of a high order of intellect, he not only reflected honor upon the Craft by his superior skill as a workman; but he contributed to grace the time in which he lived by his social qualities, and the impetus he gave to art culture by his personal example.
An engraver by profession, he carried the art to a higher state of excellence than it had reached in Boston, and kept abreast through a long life with its most accomplished masters. As enduring specimens of his skill are the Diploma plate now used by the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and that for certificates; also the plate long in use by the Grand Chapter and now used for packet certificates, the plate used for Knights Templar Diplomas until it was destroyed in the great fire of 1872, and the plate for certificates, in use by the A. and A. Rite, which are given to members of the 14° or given in connection with the larger one to those of the 32°. All of the above mentioned diplomas and certificates are engraved on steel, except that for the Chapter, which is on copper.
He was burn in Danvers, Massachusetts, September 8th, 1795, came to Boston when about eighteen years of age, resided there during the remaining term of life, and died'at his residence December 18th, 1878. In referring to him in an obituary notice, one of the leading daily papers said: "Mr. Smith was one of our skilled engravers, and for many years was almost without a competitor in this branch, lie was also an artist in water-colors."
On November 4th, 1819, he was made a Mason in Columbian Lodge in Boston, became a member May 5th, 1820, and was elected an Honorary'Member May 7th, 1840. He served in various offices in the Lodge for nine years, was elected Master in 1826, '27, '29, '42. '43, '44 and '45, thus serving in that office more years than am other holding the same position in the Lodge.
He was Deputy Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge in 1837, '38, and '39. After the Convention in Baltimore, most of the Lodges in Boston acquired the ritual as understood there to have been established. In consequence of this, Massachusetts Lodge invited brother Smith to take membership and become its Master in order that it might have the benefits of his ripe experience as a ritualist and presiding officer. This invitation he responded to by accepting the office to which he was elected, and served during 1847-'48 and '49, with great advantage to the Body, after which he returned to Columbian Lodge. In both of these Lodges he was beloved and honored as shown by their records, especially in Columbian, where his greater service received more frequent commendation.
The last official acts of Wor. Brother Smith were to install Wor. Bro. W. T. R. Marvin Master of Columbian Lodge, and to work the Third Degree with an organization composed of Past Masters of the Lodge, himself in the Last.
In 1845, '46, and '47, he was President of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. He was also a member of the School Committee, and took an active part in public affairs, though nol an aspirant for political honors. In the Masonic fraternity he was held in high esteem, not only on account of the ability with which he conferred the degrees, but for the elegance of his occasional Masonic addresses. Though given with but little preparation, they were always felicitous.
Soon after coming to Boston he became a member of the Boston Light Infantry, and his regard for his old military corps was marked by constant loyalty during a long life. The last reunion of the Tiger I Association found him at the table, and his reminiscences of his early military days were listened to with pleasure. Age did not impair his interest in passing events, and within a week he was seen in our streets, bearing the marks of age, without the infirmities of advanced life. His death was in consequence of a sudden cold, ending in pneumonia.
From Proceedings, Feast of St. John 1876, 1876-179ff:
"BRETHREN, — When an old man of my age rises in an assembly of this sort, you must be content, of course, when you call him up, with mere dribblings, and a reminder of what he once was. But, although the physical powers may have decayed, and although the mental faculties may be somewhat dimmed by the infirmities of age, — strange if they should not be, — still, I can assure you, Brethren and friends, that, in my case, at least, the heart remains sound.
"Brethren, when an old man rises, you expect, of course, to listen to him with all possible charity. You know very well that what he says cannot possibly amuse you, and it is not very likely to instruct you. I will only say, with regard to it, that we should, I think, on all occasions of this sort,—on all Masonic occasions, in fact, — remember what the Institution is. It is the oldest Institution known among men. Its origin is sacred, if anything human can be sacred. It arose from the devotion of the older architects to their profession. Their profession led them to do what was in fact to raise temples for worship, and which, however imperfect when they raised them, proved to be better than they knew. They raised an association to which every civilization assigns the greatest power over the human mind, —the association of Freemasonry, — the emblems of which very few can tell the meaning of, when shown to them, except in somewhat rather obscure moral allusions.
"Allow me to say, at my age, — and I am in an association composed, in a great measure, of the officers of Lodges, —that no Master should ever allow a person to take upon himself the character of a Master Mason without giving him somewhat of the history and genius of our Institution. Any ordinary man may find enough to astonish and interest any individual who comes among us. It has connection with the operatives of the ancient and present world. We recollect what is generally known, that until within a very few years Freemasonry was decidedly an operative Institution. It was the sacred Institution with the ancients, and has been handed down from man to man; and all the little working tools, and all the little explanations which we carry forward now, with all initiates, were handed down from time immemorial. We know not their origin, and they are lost in the darkness that prevails in history. We only know that institutions comparatively like Masonry were united in their full strength in the ancient associations of Egypt. We know that perfectly. They were sacred to the priests, and their initiations were known only to the priests. They carried their knowledge of Masonry to other countries, and that is the way it came down to us. When it came down to England, one very extraordinary thing which I wish to notice is,—although it is said that the German scholars contradict it, — that the origin of Gothic architecture is unquestionably due to the Masonic Institution. It is a very strange thing, but the Gothic style of architecture made its appearance in England, France, Germany and Italy at about the same time, and with precisely the same features. Why was this, gentlemen? Why, very plainly. It came down with the Crusaders, who went into the Eastern World and became acquainted with the old architecture and relics of Freemasonry, and brought it into Europe; and if you look at the character of Gothic architecture you will find that the ancient arts were precisely the same as they are in most ancient temples erected by Masons. These came down unquestionably from the Crusaders, and, as I said before, Masonry made its appearance all over Europe about the same time. The idea has been controverted, but we know it to be true; and it has been shown that in all countries in Europe, where houses have been erected at various times since, the Masonic Emblems are there in almost every single instance, proving that they were erected by one and the same institution. I make this remark to show that it is not an every-day Institution, to be spoken about and then set aside. It is one of the oldest Institutions; it is the most ancient and honorable Fraternity that human beings ever knew. And when we speak of the Great Author of our Religion we see, if not the Masonic form, the Masonic spirit; when the Saviour said to his disciples : —
"Whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister.
And whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all."
"And that, gentlemen, was the first democratic word ever spoken on earth, and I look at it with great respect. I say nothing about the lesson the Institution teaches, but there can be no question about that. That was the first word spoken which gave the law of Liberty in the world. Brethren, I have already spoken too long, but you have heard me — [Cries of "Go on,, go on."] I have not much more to say, Brethren, but I am profoundly grateful for the spirit which I think I see here now. I am profoundly grateful for the prosperity of this Institution, because I believe it is interwoven with, and bound up in, the prosperity of the universe. Again I will say with you, Freemasonry, first, last and always; may it be eternal."
1838 Map published by Brother Smith