Table of Contents

Thomas Quitman Ellis
  1. My Ballot (original version)
  2. My Ballot (revised version)
  3. Are You A Mason, Brother?
  4. God Bless The Masons Ever
  5. Brotherhood
  6. A bio of Brother Ellis


"My Ballot" is Brother Ellis' most memorable poem, often reproduced, but the only one to have made it onto the Internet until I sought him out for MPoets. The Grand Lodge of Mississippi graciously sent a book of his works to me, which is the source for the balance of this web page. For more info on Tom and his book, see his bio at the bottom of the page.

However, the version of this poem in his book had the notation, "I wrote the original of this poem many years ago, The following is merely a revision." As the version which then followed in the book was significantly different from the version popularly reprinted to this day, I've felt it worthwhile to include both. The original is I, revised version is II.
okl.


My Ballot (I)

I stand at the same sacred altar
Where, prompted by brotherly love,
I vowed solemn vows without falter
Witnessed by Him from above.

As once I knelt there in rev'rence
I stand rev'rently there
My thoughts have suffered no sev'rence,
As I vowed so I'll vote on the square

If through friendship I favor the seeker
But think him unworthy at heart
Lest my Lodge by my ballot grow weaker,
Such favor from justice must part.

At the altar where light flooded o'er me,
I'll betray not the trust that I bear,
I'll shame not the emblems before me,
But I'll cast my vote on the square.

Or should he be not to my liking,
But merit by action the trust;
My soul I'll not perjure by striking
A blow when such a blow be unjust

But I'll welcome his step 'cross the border,
I'll honor the trust that I bear,
I'll vote for the good of the order
By casting my vote on the square.


Time flies and ere long my petition
Will be filed in the Grand Lodge above.
I'll be glad then I tempered such mission
With justice and brotherly love.

"With the measure ye mete" has been spoken
By the Worshipful Master up there
No promise e're made has He broken
And He'll handle my case on the square.

My Ballot (II)

At the same sacred altar I'm standing;
It glows with the same sacred light,
With the same sense of honor demanding
As when kneeling, my vows there to plight.
And as rev'rently then I was kneeling
I now stand rev'rently there,
And all I hold dear is appealing,
That my vote stand the test of the Square.

If through friendship I favor the seeker
But know him unworthy at heart,
Lest my Lodge by my ballot grow weaker,
Such favor from justice must part.
At the altar where light flooded o'er me,
I'll betray not the trust that I bear,
I'll shame not the emblems before me,
But I'll measure my vote by the Square.

Or should he not be to my liking
But merit by actions the trust,
My soul I'll not perjure by striking
A blow if a blow be unjust.
But I'll welcome his step 'cross the border,
I'll honor the trust that I bear,
I'll vote for the good of the Order
And I'll cast every vote on the Square.

Time flies and ere long my petition
Will be filed in the Grand Lodge above;
I'll be glad then I tempered such mission
With justice and brotherly love.
"With the measure ye mete" has been spoken
By the Worshipful Master up there;
No promise e're made has He broken,
He'll handle my case on the Square.

Are You A Mason, Brother?

Perhaps you have been tested oft with signs and words and grips,
And praises won as answers fell from trained and practised lips;
But there's another testing that will prove you weak or strong,
Are you a Mason, brother, or do you just belong?

When sunshine falls about your path, or clouds the sunshine hide,
Do clouds or sunshine dominate your faith in God to guide?
And do you strive to honor Him with service as with song?
Are you a Mason, brother, or do you just belong?

Do you apply the plumbline true to test a fellow's worth,
Or do you measure greatness by his station, rank or birth?
Does clan or creed e'er make your choice in judging right and wrong?
Are you a Mason, brother, or do you just belong?

Ere long you'll face life's eventide and view with pride or shame,
The record of your journey made the way by choice you came.
And He who marks the record down, no soul has ever wronged,
A Mason's record it will be, or one who just belonged.

Two Fates will lie before you then too late for you to choose
The wages of a Mason or a faithless Craftsman's dues.
You then will face Eternity with those who served or wronged,
With God's real Master Masons, or those who just belonged.

Tom Ellis wrote this preface to the following poem, which harks back to the day when orphanages were common in America: "On a visit to the Masonic Home in Meridian, Mississippi, the writier witnessed the daily assembling of the children of that home in an evening prayer service, and was impressed by extemporary prayers that fell from the lips of the children, as they knelt together. "God bless the Masons of Mississippi who gave us this home," is their daily theme, which prompted the following:"

God Bless The Masons Ever

We thank you sirs for what you've done
because you loved our daddies;
We all agree we're glad to be
your lassies and your laddies.
We'd have you know where'er you go
that we forget you never,
But every day we kneel and pray,
"God bless the Masons ever."

'Tis but a simple little prayer
with childish faith it's given,
But in your Book we've read somewhere
that child-like faith rules Heaven.
So then that you come smiling through
life's every good endeavor,
We'll kneel and pray this prayer each day,
"God bless the Masons ever."

The hand of Want you stayed with Love
the ghost of Need you banished,
You made the sun shine from above
the clouds of sorrow vanished.
We're bound to you by ties so true
that naught on earth can sever,
And every day we'll kneel and pray,
"God bless the Masons, ever."

Ere long we'll come to be grown-ups,
with fret and frown and worry;
For we are told by folks grown old
that time flies in a hurry.
But when we do, we'll think of you,
for we'll forget you never,
And just the same we'll praise your name,
"God bless the Masons ever."

And when life's little Day is o'er
and we're with God's annointed,
We'll sing our praise on yonder shore
the shore to which you pointed;
And on and on, in endless day
where death no ties can sever,
Around God's throne we'll sing and pray,
"God bless the Masons ever."

Brotherhood

The East begins where the West leaves off
and no man knows the spot;
The starting point of the Sunny South
is a place where the North is not.
We call it East where the welcome rays
first tint the morning skies,
We call it West where the shadows fade
as the evening sunset dies;
We call it North where the snow drifts pile,
as the wintry blizzards blow,
We call it South where the orange blooms
and the the sweet magnolias grow;
We may travel East or wander West,
or North or South may roam,
But where the spirit of Brotherhood dwells,
any place is home, sweet home.
God speed the day these truths hold sway,
with the banner of peace unfurled,
And shed their light through the darkest night
of a war-cursed, weary world;
When man meets man in every land,
as Brotherhood reigns supreme,
And "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men"
is more than a beautiful dream.

Thomas Quitman Ellis (1890-1971)

Usually just noted as "Thomas Q. Ellis, Grand Master Mississippi 1925," Tom was born in the Bowling Green community, Holmes County, Mississippi, December 11, 1890, the son of Rev. J.T. and Mary Quitman Ellis. His father was a Baptist minister for over fifty years. Tom finished high school at Durant, Miss., then worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a Telegraph Operator and Train Dispatcher. He married Mattie Lee Hellums on February 16, 1910. He was initiated 5/11/1912, passed 6/6/1912, and raised 7/10/1912 in Valley City Lodge #402 in Water Valey, Miss. He was also an active member of the York Rite. All of the poems above, except the first version of "My Ballot", are from what I believe is the only other writing he left behind, a small booklet compiled in 1954 of years of his writing, entitled "Tom Q-RIOSITIES". The pieces display humor, inspiration, and writing skill that makes me sorely regret what other glories from his pen we have lost to the effacing sands of time. Brother Ellis passed away May 24, 1971.

My thanks to Fred Bean, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, for providing me with all of this information, from Grand Lodge records, Brother Ellis's biography from his WM year of 1925, and a copy of "Tom Q-riosities". Only a few pieces near the end were on Masonry, so only those are on this page, but I hope to eventually expand this to include his non-Masonic writings as well.
okl.