Quantico, Virginia, is the home of John A. Lejeune Lodge No. 350, of the Grand Lodge, A.F.&A.M.; the Lodge is named after Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired). General Lejeune was a past Commandant of the Marine Corps, an exemplary Marine, and a devoted member of our Masonic fraternity. The death of Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune, USMC (Retired), on November 20, 1942, in Washington, DC, created some consternation among members of the Lodge; Mrs. Lejeune did not attend any of the services, as she was seriously ill. She created a bit of concern when she would not consent to, or authorize any kind of Masonic services for General Lejeune!
On July 2, 1924, the Grand Lodge of Virginia was petitioned to grant a charter to establish Quantico Lodge No. 350, as Under Dispensation; twenty four brothers signed the petition for that charter. On March 6, 1925, a Provisional Lodge was opened for the institution and installation of the first officers. Major General Lejeune, an attendee, was introduced by MW Callahan, Grand Master of Masons in Virginia; General Lejeune then made a very stirring speech by relating that he was made a Master Mason in a lodge in Coblenz, Germany, after World War I. He spoke of the characteristics of Freemasonry, tolerance, brotherly love, obedience to both human and Divine laws, and democracy. The Bible upon which General (and Brother) George Washington was obligated was present for this occasion.
The first stated communication was held on March 11, 1925, during which time both MW Callahan and General Lejeune were elected to honorary membership in the Lodge. A subsequent communication saw our fee for the Fellowcraft Degree set at $15.00; the fee for the Master Mason degree was set at $10.00. Our first petitioners at our July 16, 1925, stated communication were Earl J. Zalanka, James H. Spalding, Ernest W. Beck, Thomas D. Collins, and, Cyrus A. Gould; a motion was made and seconded to establish the fees as follow: $25.00 with the petition; $15.00 for the Fellowcraft degree; and, $19.00 for the Master Mason's degree. Our dues were set at 50 cents per month with $1.00 per year going to the Masonic Home of Virginia (MAHOVA). Our first affiliates were Brother W.W. Davies from Hiram No. No. 18, and Brother Thomas C. Hudson from Cherrydale Lodge No. No. 42. The honor of being the first candidate raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason belongs to Brother Beck who was raised at a called communication on October 26, 1925. Brothers H.E. Wall, V.S. Abel, Sr., and J. H. Moncure were selected as Trustees of the Lodge on November 18, 1925. Discussions occurred to make the officer corps of the Lodge more representative of its members and their respective occupations; the following guidelines to constitute the elected line officers were informally adopted: an enlisted Marine; a commissioned USMC officer; a Civil Service employee; and, a civilian from the immediate vicinity of the Marine base.
Notables who have received their degrees in this Lodge were: Brigadier General (Bro.) Merritt A. Edson, USMC, was initiated, passed, raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason as a courtesy to Lodge No. No. 64 in Vermont; Lieutenant General (Bro.) Merwin W. Silverthorn, USMC, was initiated, passed, raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason; Major General (Bro.) Randolph C. Berkley, USMC, was initiated, passed, raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason; and, a future Grand Master of this Grand Jurisdiction, MW William Thomas Watkins, was initiated, passed, raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason as a courtesy Mercer Lodge No. No. 160, Bluefield, West Virginia. The Lodge did not have a permanent place at which to hold its meetings; a Building Fund was established, and the members were assessed $1.00 per month (later raised to $10.00 per month) for a period of five years. Brother Zalanka reported at the stated communication of July 20, 1927, that the basement of the Marine Memorial Church in Quantico would be a more fitting place to hold our meeting; that site was selected as our permanent site. Brother F.P. Moncure was authorized to consummate the purchase of the Marine Memorial M.E. Church as the permanent home of this Lodge for $5,000.00; authorization to purchase two adjacent lots for the price of $500.00 per lot also was granted by the Lodge. MW W.M. Brown laid the cornerstone of our Lodge on June 4, 1934. The cornerstone contained the following items: a Lodge roster; history of the Lodge; vials of corn, wine, and oil used in the cornerstone laying ceremony; an 1816 copper penny; a Civil War bullet; an Indian arrowhead; an Alexandria street car token; two Lodge trestleboards; a copy of the By-Laws; a copy of the Consecration Day program, and two newspaper accounts of that program; a copy of the April and June issues of the Masonic Herald; a pamphlet of the Allied Masonic degrees; a pamphlet from a Masonic school of instruction; a 1932 penny; two trestleboards of Potomac Lodge No. No. 5, Washington, DC; a picture of the George Washington gavel; a list of the officers for 1934 of Potomac Lodge No. No. 5; a 25 cent and a 50 cent coin from the Abada Grotto Auxiliary (ladies); and, a picture of the officers of this Lodge for 1934. No wonder that the stone is so spacious in order to accommodate this large number of items!
On May 24, 1940, we held our mortgage burning ceremony; a change in our By-Laws set our dues at 75 cents per month or $9.00 per annum; the Secretary, Treasurer, and Tiler were exempt from payment of dues. The funeral of Bro. Calvin A. Lloyd for whom our Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star was named was held at Arlington National Cemetery on January 27, 1944; he was a member of Port Royal Lodge No. No. 242, Port Royal, South Carolina.
Brigadier General (Bro.) Merwin W. Silverthorn, USMC, spoke of the early days of this Lodge; the candidate had, indeed, been properly prepared for degree work when he tracked mud - occasionally, icy water! - to the West gate! Also, Major General (Bro.) Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC, spoke of his association with General Lejeune in Coblenz, Germany, and of Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. General (Bro.) Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC (Retired), was proposed for honorary membership at our stated communication of October 15, 1956; on November 19, 1956, Bro. Shepherd was elected to honorary membership in this Lodge as a result of the actions of our Grand Master.
We have arrived at the dawning of a new year, decade, and century. The advancing ages of our older members will not permit the Lodge to grow as deaths, demits, and suspensions will take their respective tolls on our membership. We MUST continue concerted efforts to locate, inform, and provide petitions to prospective men of good report; the future is up to YOU.