Staff Person: Martha Elmore
Freemasonry has a long history in North Carolina back to colonial times and still has a strong presence with 375 lodges and 47,000 members (2007, www.grandlodge-nc.org/freemasonryrevealed/atlantic.htm). It is thought that the society developed from stonemason guilds in the Middle Ages, but today it is a fraternal order centered on the principles of self-improvement and philanthropy. One must apply to be a member and once accepted, one studies the principles and teachings of Freemasonry to work through the three degrees of apprentice, fellow craft, and master mason. Masons meet as lodges in buildings referred to as Masonic lodges.
Below is a certificate stating that Samuel R. Ireland became a Regular Master Mason on March 28, 1846, with the Belmont Lodge No. 108 in Duplin County, North Carolina.
To learn more about the Ireland family of Duplin and Sampson Counties, N.C., go to http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0058/.