1859. No Binding. Very Good. [Np: 1859] quarto, printed circular letter, three pages, folded, integral address leaf bears, postal stamp, and other markings, it was sent to "Secretary, Mount Vernon Lodge No. 143, Ghoulson's Post Office. Chatham Cty, N.C," some light stains, minor breaks at fold joints, else in very good, clean condition. Martin pleads with his fellow Masons to raise the funds desperately needed for "securing the College Grounds and Buildings. the only possible means of escape from impending failure, and lasting reproach." In a 1931 booklet, "The Story of St. John's College and Oxford Orphanage", Creasy Proctor details how one of the first Masonic Colleges in America came to be established in the 1850s on a tract of 109 acres in Oxford, North Carolina, between Durham and the Virginia border. The building was completed in 1857 at a cost of $ 23,000.00, more than half of which remained unpaid, and was opened in 1858 - for male students only. But "the troubles of the college never came to an end." When the Civil War began and the Masons failed to offer it to the Confederacy as a military school, the College, in debt up to its ears, was suspended. Attempts to resuscitate it during the early Reconstruction era - first as a girl's school - also failed. At last, in 1872, the Masons converted the building to "an asylum for the protection, training and education of indigent orphan children." (Only white children, of course, a separate, but unequal orphanage for Black children was not created until a decade later). Amazingly, the orphanage survived until the 1980s, when it was renamed the Masonic Home for Children. It apparently exists to this day. Rare circular, possibly the only surviving copy, Duke University holds an earlier printed letter of April 1856 proposing the establishment of the College at Oxford. (Inventory #: 030066)
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