Table of Contents

Lawrence N. Greenleaf
  1. The Lodge Room Over Simpkins' Store
  2. Hands Across The Sea
  3. The Temple Of Living Stone
  4. Masonry Comes To Colorado
  5. O Mother Lodge We've Wandered Far
  6. Live On! O Masonry, Live On!
  7. Just Forty Years Ago

  8. A Brief Biography by Lorion
    A Lengthy Biography by Stone

The Lodge Room Over Simpkins' Store

The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkins' store,
Where Friendship Lodge had met each month for fifty years or more.
When o'er the earth the moon, full orbed, had cast her brightest beam
The brethren came from miles around on horseback and in team,
And Ah! what hearty grasp of hand, what welcome met them there,
As mingling with the waiting groups they slowly mount the stair
Exchanging fragmentary news or prophecies of crop
Until they reach the Tiler's room and current topics drop
To turn their thoughts to nobler themes they cherish and adore
And which were heard on meeting night up over Simpkins' store.

To city eyes, a cheerless room, long usage had defaced
The tell tale line of lath and beam on wall and ceiling traced.
The light from oil fed lamps was dim and yellow in its hue
The carpet once could pattern boast, though now 'twas lost to view;
The altar and the pedestals that marked the stations three
The gate post pillars topped with balls, the rude carved letter G,
Were village joiner's clumsy work, with many things beside
Where beauty's lines were all effaced and ornament denied.
There could be left no lingering doubt, if doubt there was before,
The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkins' store.

While musing thus on outward form the meeting time drew near,
And we had glimpse of inner life through watchful eye and ear.
When Lodge convened at gavel's sound with officers in place,
We looked for strange, conglomerate work, but could no error trace.
The more we saw, the more we heard, the greater our amaze
To find those country brethren there so skilled in Mason's ways.
But greater marvels were to come before the night was through,
Where unity was not mere name, but fell on earth like dew,
Where tenets had the mind imbued, and truths rich fruit age bore,
In the plainest lodge room in the land, up over Simpkins' store.

To hear the record of their acts was music to the ear,
We sing of deeds unwritten which on angel's scroll appear,
A WIDOW'S CASE Four helpless ones Lodge funds were running low
A dozen brethren sprang to feet and offers were not slow.
Food, raiment, things of needful sort, while one gave loads of wood,
Another, shoes for little ones, for each gave what he could.
Then spake the last: "I haven't things like these to give but then,
Some ready money may help out" and he laid down a ten.'
Were brother cast on darkest square upon life's checkered floor,
A beacon light to reach the white was over Simpkins' store.

Like scoffer who remained to pray, impressed by sight and sound,
The faded carpet 'neath our feet was now like holy ground.
The walls that had such dingy look were turned celestial blue,
The ceiling changed to canopy where stars were shining through.
Bright tongues of flame from altar leaped, the G was vivid blaze,
All common things seemed glorified by heaven's reflected rays.
O! Wondrous transformation wrought through ministry of love
Behold the LODGE ROOM BEAUTIFUL! fair type of that above.
The vision fades the lesson lives while taught as ne'er before,
In the plainest lodge room in the land up over Simpkins' store.

Lawrence N. Greenleaf wrote this poem on November 19, 1898 about a mythical lodge that was really every lodge. It is certainly his best-known poem a century later. In 1959 a restored pioneer lodge room in South Park City in Fairplay, Colorado was designated as "The Lodge Room Over Simpkins' Store." For a couple of photographs of that lodgeroom you can check out and and

Hands Across The Sea

Here's "Hands across the sea!" good sirs,
here's "Hands across the sea!"
To every isle and continent
where'er our brethren be;
For we are one in sympathy,
as we are one in name;
The self same tools are bright with use
and mystic lights aflame;
The same designs on trestle board
by which our tasks are wrought
Their symbol truths impressed on heart
and centered in our thought.
For that which counts for greatest good
is through the lives of each
Who by their acts exemplify
the principles we teach.

The world's great heart is throbbing
with the spirit of unrest;
We hear the cry that welleth up
from peoples long oppressed;
We see the rule of mammon
and the grasping hand of greed,
The travesties of justice
and the toiler's bitter need,
The striving for the mastery,
the ever present fear,
With nation watching nation,
and the war clouds hovering near,
And the question ever riseth
as portentous signs we trace,
What will the final outcome be,
and what the saving grace?
And Masonry makes answer
with its never changing plan
The Fatherhood of God.
the Brotherhood of Man!

Though aeons upon aeons break
upon the shores of time,
This is the grand fulfillment,
and the prophesy sublime;
This is the work of trestle board
for brethren everywhere,
For never was there greater need
for level, plumb and square,
For trowel with cement of love
to strengthen and unite
The human race in brotherhood,
and usher in the Light!
To all who aid this glorious work,
wherever they may be,
Here's to the Craft in homeland,
and here's "Hands across the sea!"

The Temple of Living Stone

The Temple made of wood and stone may crumble and decay,
But there's a viewless fabric which shall never fade away,
Age after age each Mason strives to carry out his plan,
But still the work's unfinished which those ancient Three began.
None but immortal eyes may view complete in all its parts
The Temple formed of Living Stones the structure made of hearts.

'Neath every form of government, in every age and clime,
Amid the world's convulsions and the ghastly wrecks of time,
While empires rise in splendor and are conquered and o'erthrown,
And cities crumble in the dust, their very sites unknown,
Beneath the sunny smile of peace, the threatening frown of strife,
Lo! Masonry has stood unmoved with age renewed her life.
She claims her votaries in all climes, for none are under ban,
Who place implied trust in God, and toward their fellow man,
The heart that shares another's woe, beats just as warm and true
Within the breast of Christian, or Mohammedan, or Jew.
She levels all distinctions from the highest to the least,
The Kings must yield obedience to the peasant in the East.

What honored names on history's page, o'er whose brave deeds we pore,
Have knelt before our sacred shrine, and trod the checkered floor!
Kings, princes, statesmen, heroes, bards, who squared their actions true,
Between the Pillars of the Porch, they pass in long review.
O, brothers! What a glorious thought for us to dwell upon;
The mystic tie which binds our hearts, bound that of Washington.
Although our past achievements we with conscious pride review,
As long as there's Rough Ashlars there is work for us to do.
We must still shape the Living Stone with instruments of love,
For that eternal Mansion in the Paradise above.
Toil as we've toiled in ages past, to carry out the plan
'Tis this: The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man.

Masonry Comes To Colorado

Turn we our thoughts to early days, when o'er the stretching plains
The long procession wound its way of white-topped wagon trains.
Bearing brave souls to this new land, the mecca of their hopes,
Where wealth was found along the streams and on the mountain slopes,
An army vast, together drawn, by God's all-potent spell
Which stirs such fever in the blood; its quest alone may quell.
Their settlements in valleys and on many a mountain side
All types and classes of mankind, 'mong whom e'er long was had
The struggle for supremacy between the good and bad.

'Twas then each Mason knew his place, although as such unknown,
Nor rested till the right prevailed and wrong was overthrown.
No Lodge was here, but Brethren true were leaders in the van
Of each forced march of progress for the betterment of man.
For Order out of Chaos and from darkness into light
Hath ever been the teaching that a Mason cannot slight,
And where a voice must needs be raised, his lips can ne'er be dumb
Whose course is ever guided by the lesson of the Plumb.
Though well they served the common weal, the world may never know
The silent force of Masonry those many years ago.

From the 50th Anniversary Poem by P.G.M. Lawrence N. Greenleaf, and reprinted in the Centennial Celebration book, 1961

O, Mother Lodge, We've Wandered Far

O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far
And knocked at many a door,
Since first we wore thy Lambskin gift
And trod thy Checkered Floor.
Since first thy symbols met our gaze
And claimed our constant thought,
Till patient search at length revealed
The hidden truths they taught.
When heart at name of Brother thrilled,
And loyal but to thee,
We loved thy Square and Compass, and
Adored thy letter G.

The Chapter held recovered truths,
Why not possess the same?
That thought awoke a new desire
And fanned it into flame.
The honor sought at length was ours,
We read the Keystone's face
And saw the treasures long entombed
Brought from their hiding place.
Another tie had bound our heart,
Another name had we
O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far
Yet still we cling to thee.

The Council next a votary claimed
We passed within its door.
The orders then of Knighthood took,
But still we craved for more.
The Scottish Rite's prolific brood
Rose temptingly to view,
We reveled in the mysteries
Expressed by 32.
At last the crowning honor came,
With figure 33.
O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far,
Yet still we cling to thee.

O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far,
From thy more simple ways
Mid scenes of splendid pageantry
With glories all ablaze.
Where dulcet strains fall on our ear
And pealing anthems ring,
And wisdom of the antique world
Was voiced by silvery tongue
And yet, withal, true Son of Light
With vision clear to see,
O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far,
Yet still we cling to thee.

O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far,
With longings vain possessed,
No higher jewel than thy Square
Is worn on Mason's Breast.
No higher badge than thy first gift,
The Lambskin pure and white,
Thy Pointed Star ascendant is
O'er every grade and rite.
Between thy Pillars all must pass,
Or else must cease to be.
O, Mother Lodge, we've wandered far,
Yet still we cling to thee.

Live On! O Masonry, Live On!

Say not, say not, that Masonry is waning in its power,
Supplanted by the secret swarms which multiply each hour;
It hath no rivalry with these; it seeks not, but is sought;
Relief a tenet, not an end, sole object of its thought.
Their single aims are incidents within its vast purview,
Which sweeps the starry universe and canopy of blue,
Which traverses the lines of earth, the flaming sun its guide,
With sleepless vigil seeketh truth where'er it may abide.
It sees the Hand Omnipotent which traced the Grand Design,
And bows in adoration ere it graspeth square and line
Live on! O Masonry, live on!

Live on! O Masonry, live on! Thy work has scarce begun;
Live on! nor end, if end there be, till earth's last setting sun.
Live on! thy work in ages past hath but prepared the way;
For every truth thy symbols teach there's pressing need today.
In cultured or unlettered age humanity's the same,
And evermore the passions rage whose furies thon wouldst tame;
Would but the nations heed thy Plumb war's carnage soon would end,
Thy Level rivalries subdue, thy Square to virtue tend,
Thy Trowel spread that true cement which doth all hearts unite,
And darkness comprehend and glow with thy immortal Light
Live on! O Masonry, live on!

Live on! O Masonry, live on! Thy "G" forever blaze,
To penetrate the mists of doubt, and heavenward turn our gaze.
To set our hearts aflame with zeal where'er our tasks may lie,
Within the quarry's gloomy depth, or on the turret high.
Or, mingling with the outer world, amid its noisy din,
Ne'er, ne'er, may we forget without, the lessons taught within.
Reflected ever may they be in upright lives and pure,
For on foundation such as this shall Masonry endure.
Till merged in those intenser rays that mark the Perfect Day,
Its blessed light, while earth revolves, shall never fade away
Live on! O Masonry, live on!

Lawrence Nichols Greenleaf (1838-1922)

Grand Master of Masons in Colorado, 1880
Deputy of The Supreme Council, 33, for Colorado,
Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, 1878-1917

Born in Massachusetts on Oct. 4, 1838, Lawrence N. Greenleaf is closely associated with the state of Colorado, where he was honored as Poet Laureate of Colorado. As a newspaperman, signing himself "Peter Punever," Lawrence Greenleaf's various short poems first appeared in the fledgling Rocky Mountain News. He published several* books of humorous poems or essays.

A member of Denver Lodge, No.5, he was the founder and editor of the "Square and Compass" magazine. His most famous work was "The Lodge Room Over Simpkins Store" which has appeared in every copy of the Colorado Craftsman. It was the inspiration for the re-creation and furnishing of "Friendship Lodge" in the reconstructed pioneer South Park City adjacent to Fairplay, Colo. Greenleaf was respected throughout the Masonic world for his illuminating correspondence reports, the first of which appeared in 1870, the last in 1917. He was a close friend of and was in touch with all the great Masonic thinkers of his time. There were some who would have hailed him as the poet laureate of Freemasonry, as well as Colorado's.

Lawrence Greenleaf died October, 25 1922.

* Greenleaf reportedly published more than one book, but the only one we can find reference to is "King Sham and Other Atrocities in Verse; including a
Humorous History of the Pike's Peak Excitement"


Following is a much longer biography of L.N. Greenleaf which was written in his lifetime by Wilbur Fiske Stone.

An Excerpt from

History of Colorado

1918 by Wilbur Fiske Stone


Lawrence Nichols Greenleaf, of Denver, known as the Pioneer Poet, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, October 4, 1838. He was educated in the public schools of that city, being graduated from the English high school with the class of 1855. He then entered a wholesale importing house, where he remained for four years, when the glowing reports from the Pike's Peak gold region induced him to seek the far west.

He left Boston on the llth of April, 1860, and stopped at Chicago and St. Louis en route. From the latter city he took passage on a steamboat to Hannibal, Missouri, and thence proceeded by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he joined the Brad Pease party, leaving there with horse teams on the 28th of April and reaching Denver May 24, 1860, after a journey of twenty-seven days. Having formed a partnership with G. G. Brewer, he purchased a mule team and loaded a wagon with groceries and miners' supplies, going to California Gulch, now Leadville, by way of Colorado City and the Ute Pass, which at that time was little more than a trail and was most hazardous traveling with a loaded wagon owing to the rough and precipitous incline. Having disposed of their stock, the partners returned to Denver and engaged in merchandising, erecting in July, 1860, the first two-story brick building on Larimer street, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets. The firm continued in business for over thirty years, when it was dissolved, after which each partner continued in business for a few years longer alone.

Mr. Greenleaf figured throughout this entire period as one of the prominent and leading merchants of the city, contributing in no small measure to its commercial development and ever meriting and enjoying the highest respect by reason of the energy and enterprise of his methods. Upon retiring from the mercantile business he became the publisher of the Square and Compass, a Masonic monthly, which he conducted for twenty-five years. His contributions in prose and poetry of recent years have been Masonic in sentiment and have been widely copied.

Mr. Greenleaf rightly acquired the title of Pioneer Poet in 1860. In December of that year there was founded in Denver a society under the name of the Literary and Historical Society of Denver, which projected a series of lectures, the proceeds of which were to be devoted to charitable and benevolent purposes. The first of the series took place in Mechanic's Hall in Blake street, over Tilton's store. This was a two-story brick building and was destroyed by the Cherry Creek flood of 1864. The lecturer was Dr. W H. Farner, who took for his subject The Nineteenth Century. Mr. Greenleaf was invited to deliver a poem on this occasion and preceded the lecturer in the evening.

The date was December 12th. The Rocky Mountain News the next day had the following to say concerning the poem, the report being written by Ed Bliss, who was then connected with this journal: "Before the lecture an original poem was delivered by Mr. Greenleaf. It was of a humorous character, abounding in keen satire and well devised puns, and produced repeated rounds of applause from those present. Mr. Greenleaf possesses rare poetic talent and may in time become no Insignificant rival of the renowned Saxe." The poem was repeated by request on the occasion of the next lecture on January 10, 1861, which was delivered by the Hon. George W. Purkins. In 1861 and 1862, under the nom de plume of Peter Punever, Mr. Greenleaf contributed humorous poems and quips and quirps to the columns of the Rocky Mountain News which attracted general notice in what was then the territory of Colorado. Early in 1862 he wrote a satirical poem entitled King Sham, which was first delivered on March 26, 1862, at a benefit performance at the People's Theatre, then under the management of Langrishe and Dougherty. The success which attended this effort induced Mr. Greeuleaf to undertake a trip throughout the territory, and this is believed to have been the first lecture tour in this newly settled region. He was obliged to travel by stage, mule team or on mule back, as the case might be, to reach the various mining camps, sometimes crossing difficult ranges of mountains. The poem was delivered on fourteen occasions with repeated success.

At the Fourth of July celebration in Denver in 1865 he delivered a poem written for the occasion. The Fourth of July, 1866, was celebrated under the auspices of the Colorado Pioneers Association. This organization is not to be confounded with the present Pioneer Society, which was not organized until 1881. The former was composed of the blue-blood aristocracy of 'fifty-niners, none others being eligible. The committee had to have a poet and as none could be found among their own number, Mr. Greenleaf was pressed into service and became a 'fifty-niner by brevet. His poem was entitled, Pike's Peakers of '59. He has delivered poems on many occasions and at the reunions of the Pioneers his most ambitious effort was his Centennial Poem, delivered at the centennial celebration in Denver, July 4, 1876.

It is interesting to note in this connection that Mr. Greenleaf's first appearance in public as the author of a poem occurred even before his removal to Colorado. It was on the occasion of. the annual declamation of the Lowell Literary Association, held in the Meionaon, Tremont Temple. Boston, Massachusetts, on the 13th of May, 1857. He selected the imposing subject of Art. Even at that early day he received favorable comment, the Boston Traveler saying: "A poem on Art, by L. N. Greenleaf, though at times a little faulty in metre, was well conceived and reflects credit on the writer as a promise of something better." The Daily Bee wrote as follows: "One of the most pleasing features of the entertainment was the recitation of an original poem, entitled Art, by Mr. Lawrence N. Greenleaf. The young gentleman is deserving of much praise for his production, and if the close attention and loud applause of an audience are any mark of approbation, he may well feel proud of this, his first effort." A later poem which he wrote, taking Columbus as his theme, brought forth the following from the Boston Herald: "His poem on Art, delivered last season before the Lowell Literary Association, was highly commended, but we think his last production its superior," while the Boston Transcript said of it that his poem "finely portrayed in verse the noble zeal of Columbus and evinced poetic talent of no mean order."

In reminiscent mood he wrote Just Forty Years Ago, closing with the stanzas:

"Roll back the veiling mists of time from that eventful day
How like a dream the retrospect? old things have passed away.
The very face of nature changed, where erst was arid waste,
Sage brush and cactus, dusty weeds through which lithe lizards raced,
The thirsty soil now oft refreshed, Is carpeted with green,
And leafy avenues of shade where never tree was seen.
Ten-story blocks mark cabin sites, ox-trains have vanished quite,
From gambling halls we hear no yells or fiddlers through the night.
No motley groups indulge in talk of 'big things' lately found.
No threats of burning town at night by Indians prowling 'round.
No roughs upon the rampage go, with frequent pistol shot,
There is no 'man for breakfast,' no excitement raging hot.
Draw, draw the misty veil again o'er memory's passing show,
O'er scenes so vivid to our sight just forty years ago.

"Just forty years ago today, just forty years ago,
We keep repeating o'er and o'er, in dreamy mood and slow.
The words have such far distant sound 'tis hard to grasp their truth
What's count of years to one whose heart claims kinship still to youth?
A truce to cheery sentiment, dissemble as we may,
They've left sure trace on form and face and streaked our locks with gray.
These be thy tell-tale marks, O Time! slight handicap as yet.
In busy life's unceasing round with duties must be met.
Most grateful we for needful strength that thou hast spared as such,
On mind and heart and senses all, hath laid so light a touch.
While golden dreams delusive prove, and wealth takes sudden wings,
The truest Joy that stirs the breast from faithful service springs.
More good than ill the years have brought, more happiness than woe.
And fate was kinder than we knew just forty years ago."

While Mr. Greenleaf comes of New England ancestry, his genius has been developed in the west. His father, Gardner Greenleaf, was a New Englander, and his mother, who bore the maiden name of Rebecca J. Caldwell, was a native of Nova Scotia. For almost sixty years, however, he has been a resident of Colorado. Here, on the 30th of March, 1869, he was married to Miss Jennie S. Hammond, of Denver, and to them have been born three children, two sons and a daughter, all of whom are married and reside in other states. Mrs. Greenleaf is a daughter of Lorenzo R. Hammond, of Massachusetts, and came to Denver with her mother and stepfather, Martin Rollins, in 1860. The sons and daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf are: Gardner, who was born in 1871 and is now in Chicago; Eugene Lawrence, who was born August 19, 1875, and is a magician, traveling with the Redpath Bureau and known as Eugene Laurant; and Rebecca Jane, who was born in 1877 and is the wife of Don R. Lewis, a merchant of Salt Lake City. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence N. Greenleaf still make their home in Denver.

From the nature of his pursuits Mr. Greenleaf was disinclined to seek political office, but has always been a stalwart champion of the democratic party. He served on the board of education in School District, No. 1, for two terms, from 1885 until 1391. He and his family are attendants of the Episcopal church, and he is an honored member of the Colorado Pioneer Society and has been active in the Masonic fraternity for more than forty-six years, having presided over lodge, chapter, council and commandery, while in the grand bodies he has filled the offices of grand master, grand high priest and grand master of the Royal & Select Masters. He is a thirty-third degree Mason and was the deputy of the inspector general in Colorado, and he has presided over the various bodies of the Scottish Rite, yet all this comprises but a small part of the many positions he has filled. As merchant, as Mason, as editor and writer of prose and poetry, he has exerted a widely felt influence for progress, for advancement and for culture, and today, in the eightieth year of his age, he is one of the most honored and venerated citizens of Denver.