Page 31 - MFM August 2013
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Montana Freemason               August 2013                                  Volume 87 Number 3
                                                                e died near there suddenly at Summit
was fit material from which to make a Mason. Nothing
is said in the official Proceedings about the differences  H(above Virginia City) on September 16,
of opinion among the organizers. Cornelius Hedges          1887. He was 68. His son, James Duncan, Sr.
of Helena, who was there and who was named Senior          wrote "He knew the hardships and privations
Grand Warden, revealed it in his later writings. He        of pioneer life. As a minister of the gospel he
would have preferred Leander W. Frary, Master of           received but small remuneration for his services.
Montana Lodge, and he reported that the Officers of
Helena Lodge could have elected either Hull or Frary,
but his two Wardens were convinced that Hull, the          The following are the words of Sol Star,
master ritualist, was the better of the two, and Hull          Senior Past Grand Master which he spoke
was elected, five votes to four. Notwithstanding his       about Hugh Duncan at the Semi-Centennial of
objections to Hull as Grand Master, Duncan accepted        the Grand Lodge of Montana on September 1,
appointment as Grand Chaplain at his hands and             1916.
was reappointed by him at the meeting the following
October. He was reappointed Grand Chaplain four
times later, in 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1871, and acted       “To these leaders permit me to add
as Grand Chaplain in 1878. He was Deputy Grand             the name of Bro. Hugh Duncan, one
Master in 1882 and Grand Master in 1883. He was            of the pioneers: Methodist minister of
District Grand Master for the Virginia City area in        Montana, an educated gentleman of
1884 and Grand Chaplain again in 1885.                     the purest Scotch type, his coming to
                                                           Montana in the early days was not the
He was a Royal Arch Mason and a Knight Templar.            glittering allurement of gold. Having
       The M.E. Grand Master of the United States          dedicated his life to the service of God,
made Hugh Duncan his special proxy to constitute           actuated by no other motive than that
Helena Commandery No. 2, which he did on April             of shepherding the spiritual and moral
9th, 1872.                                                 life of those in his care and keeping,
                                                           nothing of the bigot ever tarnished his
Hugh Duncan helped organize Lodges at Summit               princely soul taking advantage of every
       in Alder Gulch, known as Summit Lodge, and          force that stood for the betterment of
Flint Creek Lodge in Philipsburg. It was Duncan who        civilization and promotion of human
closed each Grand Lodge meeting with the singing of
Burns' Adieu. The last mention of him in Grand Lodge
was in 1886: "Burns' Adieu by Bro. Duncan followed
as usual."                                                 happiness. It was no surprise therefore
                                                           to nd him enlisted under the Masonic
The Annual Communication of 1887 was an                    Banner and laboring in its eld. His
      historic session. It was the first that Past Grand   irreproachable character, his genial
Hugh Duncan had not attended, his death having             temperament made him a positive,
intervened. It was the one at which the signet ring
was first presented to a new Grand Master by retiring      dynamic force in the dissemination
Grand Master Samuel Word. And it was the session           of light and truth. “Truth from his
at which members could not sing Burns' Adieu," on          life prevailed with double sway and
account of lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes  those who came to sco remained to
as they recalled Bro. Duncan. “Despite the attempts        pray.” Brother Duncan was appointed
made to sing Burns' Adieu after the close of the Grand     chairman of this Grand Lodge’s
Lodge, but it was painfully apparent that the voice of
the Master Minstrel was hushed forever, and as yet         Soloists and no session of Grand Lodge
none appeared who could supply his place."                 was ever permitted to close its labors

The following year, on motion of J. R. Weston of           without his singing his native song,
      Valley No. 21, seconded by George W. Monroe          “Burn’s. Adieu. On September 16th,
of Bozeman No. 18, the Grand Lodge voted that all          1887, he wrapped the drapery of his
future Communications should close with the singing        couch around him and laid down to
of Burns’ Adieu as a taken of respect to the memory of     pleasant dreams.”
Bro. Duncan, that the pleasant associations of the past
be transmitted to the future.”

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