Patron Past Stories

PATRON + The Masonic Apron – a true story – this happened frequently during the Civil War

The Masonic Apron


Vicky Clemmons

My deep love and devotion for the older generations have always been evident by the company I keep, most of my nursing career was devoted to taking care of geriatric patients, my best friends are twice my age, and I never miss an opportunity to sit and listen to what they have to say, I am mesmerized by their stories and they never seem to mind pouring out their hearts to anyone that will listen.Group from Springville, Alabama - Civil War Masons (pinterest)Group from Springville, Alabama – Civil War Masons (Pinterest)

Since I always served in management positions while nursing, I had the privilege to take my daughter, Catie, to work and they always love to see her come since she would go room to room to talk, and believe me, Catie loves to talk.  When she was small and even though she was never out of site, she would always migrate to anyone that looked old enough to be her grandparents.  There have been many times that she would ask if she could go sit with someone older sitting on a bench at our local grocery store or Wal-Mart while I was checking out.  Knowing this background on our family will prepare you for this short sweet story by my new friend Dan Jordan.

Brent-Centreville Library Project

While doing research for our new book at the Brent-Centreville Library, I came up an article about the Centreville Ferry, this was a rare find and for me a treasure, in this article there was the name of the author, an address and a phone number.  This, of course, made me want to know more so I decided to call the number and just see if this person was still there.

Brent-Centreville Library

brent centreville library

Judging by the article and how old it was I was sure the author would most likely be in a nursing home or possibly deceased but to my surprise he had an answering machine so I left my name and hopefully he would call me back and guess what, he did!  He had the only picture of the ferry we had been able to find, we developed an immediate friendship and gave me some information on his family.

Mr. Dan is a retired detective from Bessemer and also writes stories about the police department and he offered to send me a poor quality picture of the ferry and a short story about the picture so what happened next should be no surprise.  I received a call from Mr. Dan saying to be looking in the mail for the picture and story, this was on a Friday so I knew I wouldn’t have my hand on this treasure until at least Monday.

We were watching TV

Sunday afternoon after church my husband and I were in our recliners watching T.V. when the door bell rang, when I opened the door this tall gray-haired man introduced himself as Dan Jordan, he and his lovely wife Vivian drove down to hand deliver the picture.  Of course, I invited them in and we had a most pleasant visit, not only did we talk about his family and things we had in common, he had drawn a pencil drawing of the ferry, his great grandfather and at the bottom information about him and his connection of the ferry.  I was so touched we decided to put it into our new book Images of America – Bibb County.  Now with this small introductory I will get to the story I love to hear him tell, it is short but worth reading.

“Mr. Dan had a grandfather, a Mr. Patterson that was born in Bibb county but later moved to Perry county and started a farm.  Here he and his wife raised their family, crops, livestock and chickens and lead a simple but meaningful life, the place was peaceful, that is until the Civil War; Grandfather Patterson still worked on farm doing what he did everyday but one day some Union Soldiers made an unannounced visit to the farm to help themselves to food, chickens and what they thought some hidden money.

He found his Masonic Apron

Grandfather Patterson let them have the food, the chickens and whatever they wanted from the house but it seems that this was not enough so they told him if he did not tell them where he hid his money they were going to hang him from his own tree. masonic apron

The leader of the soldiers was looting the house while the soldiers were putting up a rope, when he found Grandfather Patterson’s Mason apron, upon this discovery he ran out of the house and shouted “Let him go, he is my brother”.  The Union soldiers left the farm with the loot and Grandfather Patterson was spared his life.  This story has been passed down through the generations and told to me by his Grandson, Dan Jordan.”

See Alabama historical books

Freemasons contributed to America and the state of Alabama through their patriotic service and philanthropic work since 1811, but little is known about their backgrounds. Utilizing the bonds of their fraternity, but without fanfare, the freemasons built schools, orphanages, nursing homes, provided for the sick and elderly, fought wars, and were an integral part in building the state of Alabama and our country. They were, simply put, ‘the epitome of good patriots and citizens. 

Read more in The Grand Masters of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of Alabama 1811-2011  makes a great Christmas gift for a Freemason – only available online at these stores




  1. Did you ever go back and finish ole buddy

  2. Older People are wonderful people to be around. They can teach you so much and they love you unconditionally

  3. I have one of my Dad’s Masonic Aprons. There were 2 of them. One of which he was buried with.

  4. This year I will receive my Fifty Year Pin from The Faternal Order Of The Masons and The Eastern Star. Enjoyed.they about the Apron.

  5. I AM:God bless all my brothers. Looks like this would keep a good man, clean

  6. I was raised in a Masonic family and became a Rainbow and then an Eastern Star. I am very proud of what it stands for.

  7. so papa was a yankee?

    1. No masons lived their obligations even in war. WWII was the same way.

      1. That was suppose to say masons live their

      2. Most Masons, especially years back, took their oaths very seriously, even during wartime, and being a Master Mason and veteran, myself, I can tell you that the Masonic Brothers in the military take care of each other.

  8. so papa was a yankee?

  9. Jeremy Strength, William J Paul, James Jones, this is a good story. You have to read to the very end to get the whole story.

  10. ALABAMA PIONEERS I throughly enjoy reading your historical postings. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! We enjoy finding them.

  11. Great Granddad was In this Picture John ( Will) Smith!!

  12. love to listen to the older folks tell stories of what happened when they were little, history that would be lost if we don’t listen

  13. Edwina Reisner Bates,I am reading a book about a common soldier in the civil war that I bought in Vicksburg. He also details the Generals and Colonels telling the troops to leave farms alone that had masonic markings. Because of the same reason.

  14. A House Undivided by Allen E. Roberts

    1. House Undivided is a Very Good book! Bro. Roberts follow-up book House Reunited is also a good read, but not as good as House Undivided! Bro. Roberts is a very good Masonic author, with several very good, and interesting books on amadonry!

  15. Will look for the book. Tks for the share.

  16. We at Springville Masonic Lodge are proud to carry on the traditions of masonry. This is a great story. Thanks for posting it. We have this photograph in our archives.

  17. My Granddaddy was a Mason.

  18. Interesting story this is why I love history I learn something new every time I read about it thanks for sharing

  19. These men are ready for a funeral, or have just had one. The white sashes are part of the ceremony and the gentleman with the Bible in the middle would have been the oldest member of the lodge. If you look close they have a ribbon on the lapel of their suits. This was worn as a badge of mourning. There is a lot of history with the Masons – our country was built following Masonic traditions.

  20. i am a mason i hope my kids will carry it on for along time. god bless

  21. I am a Free and Accepted Mason, my father was also and my two brothers are too.

  22. The Sam Gibbons Masonic lodge located on US Hwy 31 in Autauga County, Alabama, between Verbena and Prattville is named after my 3-great grandfather, Samuel H. Gibbons.

  23. To learn more about freemasonry during the American Civil War read “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Michael Halleran (published by U of AL Press).

  24. Initiated into Masonery in June 1966 at Helion Lodge, Huntsville, AL, 50 years this year, now serve as Treasury at Robertsdale, Al Lodge 821

  25. Katie Flowers, check this out!

  26. My dad was buried with one…I have his original one.

  27. Have my Uncles from the early 50’s @ Jasper Al ..great story !

  28. I have an ancestor who was badly injured in battle along w/many others, and when taken to a Union field hospital, somehow managed to identify himself as a Mason to the attending doctor, also a Mason (fortunately for my ancestor), and he was (the story goes) given preferential treatment and survived.

  29. my grandfather was a mason…

  30. I’ve been told that something similar to this happened to my great-grandmother….her husband was away fighting in the war but taught her a secret handshake or something, and when union army showed up she was able to do this and they left her and her children alone…..

  31. Very interesting stories

  32. I have read similar stories that during the Revolutionary War due to some of the British and Americans alike were Masons and would recognize each other such as when captured….

  33. It is still true today as it was back then. Good story. Thanks

  34. I buried my Daddy in his apron. I am the daughter of a Master Mason.

  35. My son and I are both Masons and we have read and been taught about these events many times. Thanks for sharing.

  36. my dad in that pics th/u

  37. Mason’s r dying out because the young people want try to become Mason’s or odd fellows

  38. I have at least 4 paternal generations of Masons.

  39. First record of Masonry on my dads side is Capt. Peter Youngblood, S.C. Militia, Revolutionary War. Except for my grandpa, every generation since to and including my brother and I.

  40. I too am a master mason.

  41. Good story , My uncle is a Mason , Not many following the elders footsteps !!!!!

  42. bet all the ladies were cooking

  43. Shirley Gunnels

  44. Mark York……thought you might like to read this.

  45. My husband Watson was a true Mason.. He talked to me about the apron. I still have his and u wondered if it was still as honored as when he was worship. Master. I am a past eastern star but never hear about them anymore. Dieing out.

  46. We have a similar story in our family. GG grandfather Calloway H. “Cap” Gay lived in Tuscaloosa county north of Northport. The federals marched from Tuscaloosa north burning along the way. They came to Calloway’s place and started to burn it when an officer found or saw a masonic symbol. He had them put the fire out and moved on.

  47. Third from left on the bottom is my GGG Uncle Beverly Benton Cornelius originally of Blount County Alabama.

  48. Beautifully written by a beautiful person. Vicky is missed by so many people!

  49. Bottom row, third from the left, sits my ancestor Beverly Benton Cornelius.

  50. JimandSandra Stanley

  51. Tell us more about this picture please. Was it a reunion or a group in a particular town?

  52. Does the book just list the members or more details about each member. My GG Grandfather was a Jefferson County Commissioner from 1880 to 1889 and a Mason in the Johns/Adger Alabama area. Would like as much information as possible.