Masons From the 41st Masonic District Travel to Oxford with special Monument, Message
Well before the sun rose over the mountains of Western North Carolina, fifteen brothers from various Lodges in the 41st Masonic District, the District farthest West in North Carolina, boarded a bus for a long and special journey to visit the The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. Their trek on August 22, 2015 actually started two years earlier. Seeing an article in the NC Mason, regarding recent improvements to the Children’s Home Cemetery, “God’s Half-Acre”, Past Master, Worshipful Brother Ronnie Smith of Clay Lodge No. 301 had an idea. In reading of the recent contribution of a new fence, courtesy of Past Grand Master Dewey Preslar, Jr. and his wife Terrie, Brother Smith was moved by the generosity given to the Home and to such a sacred place. He knew the brethren of the 41st district could join Brother Prelsar in his efforts to honor this place and those young lives buried there.
With the generous support of his District and after several meetings it was decided that a “part of the land” of this group of Lodges would be delivered to the cemetery, there to honor those unnamed graves of children. Over 80 years ago, the cemetery’s markers had to be engraved with “Records Lost” after a fire destroyed the only accounts listing those lost to flu or other illness in the care of the home from 1873 to 1920. Learning of this special group of “unnamed” children, Brother Smith found his way to give back to those whose final resting place as a child was the Masonic Home for Children.
Brethren from Clay, Cherokee, Marble Springs, Montgomery, and Andrews Lodges accompanied a beautiful piece of blue marble, which was unearthed from the mountains of Marble, NC. Honed and engraved the stone was gently placed near the entrance to the cemetery, indicating those who brought it and in honor and memorial of the “unnamed children” whose final resting place was “God’s Half-Acre”. Of special note was a guest on this day, Past Grand Master Dewey Preslar, Jr. whose gift to the Home and the cemetery was the inspiration for the trip and the gift of those in the 41st district. “They are all our children”, said Brother Preslar, “regardless of a name or a reason and they rely on us to be a part of their lives. This is the same for those children living at your Home today”. Before closing with prayer and with pictures and tours taken prior to their departure to tour the other Masonic Charity of North Carolina, Whitestone, Brother Smith thanked all those who made the trip and in attendance. He spoke of the inspiration and the feeling he had, so strong in its power on him to make a difference. Twenty years removed from his last visit to the Home, (as it is a long, long way to travel!), Brother Smith knew he had to return, bringing new Masons who had never seen the Home, and a new message, courtesy of the 41st Masonic District, that this will always be a place for children, thanks to their Masons.