Introductory remarks, by Tom Rue
Masonic restoration ceremony, August 12, 1996
Monticello Lodge #532, F&AM
St. John's Cemetery
Monticello, New York


R.W. Norman Moon; M.W. Gary Henningsen, D.D. Jens Meyer, honored guests; ladies; brother Masons; sisters of the Eastern Star; ladies; gentlemen; friends and neighbors. Thank you for being here today.

Our purpose this morning is to honor the community of which we are all part. The community we know as Monticello stretches beyond the village limits, and back in time nearly two centuries. John and Samuel Jones came to the frontier to get rich, I'm told. They brought with them workers, including African-Americans, by whose sweat a town arose from the hemlock wilderness. The Jones brothers had frailties and faults like all humans. They were men of their time. But we can learn from their example. While we do not place them on a pedestal, we honor them and all the men and women of their era for the groundwork they laid.

Over here is the grave of Platt Pelton, who local history books tell us was a banker. Like the Joneses, he was also a Freemason. In fact, Brother Pelton owned the land on which was constructed the first Masonic Temple. A smart businessman, he retained title to the land on which the Temple stood and when the Sullivan Lodge #272 "went dark" Brother Pelton took possession of the building. He was a businessman.

I want to thank a few people:

First, I want to thank my beautiful wife Carmen, for assisting with the project and for supporting me. There's no one better. Carmen is sitting over here. Would you stand up? Thanks also to Moish Kleinberger, the Worshipful Master of Monticello Lodge, for appointing me to chair the Lodge History Committee, and for supporting this worthy project, as well as to D.D. Jens Meyer. Members of the Lodge History Committee include myself, Moishe, David Silverman, and Arnold Levy. Participating on the joint committee is the Mayor of Monticello, Bro. Jim Kenny, owner of Kenny-VanInwegen Funeral Home. Representing the Hon. Anthony Cellini, is Town Historian Marjorie Smith and her husband Mr. Bill Smith. They couldn't be with us today either, because of illness. Also, Mr. James Slater of the Sullivan County Historical Society. Thank you.

We can all thank the band of merry workmen who recently righted the stones on the Jones plot, which we can see, and did landscaping. On your green program, you can see the stones' condition until just this week. Tom Warren, George Dexheimer, Harold Knapp and Jens Meyer came to the cemetery to do what I understood would be some weed-whacking, assisting the Town highway crew. I guess they got onto a roll. We'll hear more from Jens, I think, about how they raised the obelisks. That was wonderful.

Finally, let me thank The County of Sullivan, including elected officials, administrators, and coworkers. That includes John Everett, the custodian who lent his personal truck to move County-owned chairs over here today. Some of you know I am a staff member at the Continuing Day Treatment program. My supervisors, Ken Wiley, Dr. Bob Havlena, Dr. Martin Woodard, and Dr. Jacob Romo, have supported this activity from the beginning. Each of them deserves thanks and recognition.

One of the therapeutic groups which we offer clients at CDT is called "citizenship group." Some were with me, on one occasion, laying the route for walking tour of some historic sites in the Village, when we first came to this cemetery last spring looking for the resting place of Monticello's founder. Those with me agreed that something had to be done about the condition in which we found it. On two occasions, volunteer work crews pulled weeds and raked. They and others from the same group planted flowers in front of the Civil War memorial on the lawn of the Court House, and continue to water and weed it regularly. They will be among those honored with certificates of appreciation.

Last of all, I have a presentation to make, which I will first read. A proclamation by Senator Charles Cook of Delhi.


On behalf of Senator Cook, it is my honor to present engrossed copies of this proclamation, we hope for framing and display in public places, to:

  • Grand Lodge of New York -- R.W. Norman Moon;
  • Monticello Lodge #532, F&AM -- Bro. Anthony Lubniewski, on behalf of the Worshipful Master;
  • The Village of Monticello -- by Bro. Jim Kenny, Mayor;
  • The Town of Thompson -- by Supervisor Tony Cellini;
  • The County of Sullivan - by Dr. Robert Havlena
  • The Sullivan County Historical Society
  • The Crawford Public Library -- by Alan Barrish.

    It is now my special honor to introduce the R.W. Norman Moon, representing Grand Lodge; to be followed by the M.W. Gary A. Henningsen, Grand Secretary and Past Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York. Any local Mason can tell you it is unusual to have a visit by two Grand Line officers at once in this county, which speaks to the unusual nature of today's event.

    M.W. Gary will discuss the meaning of Freemasonry.


    Our incumbent Sullivan County Court judge, the R.W. Burton Ledina, will now tell us a little of the Jones brothers in settling Monticello, keeping up with the Joneses.


    Brother Bert Feldman, known to us as a journalist, a retired Sheriff's deputy, local historian, college professor and friend, will relate some history of Freemasonry in this area.


    It's a pleasure now to introduce a man who is both a gentlemen and a respected professional, Dr. Robert Havlena, director of mental hygiene services for the Sullivan County Division of Social and Community Mental Hygiene Services. Truly, it's a pleasure to work for and with Bob. As with all of the professional staff in the Department of Community Services, it is always clear that the interests of clients come first. Likewise, Dr. Romo, Dr. Woodard, and Ken Wiley of Continuing Day Treatment have supported client involvement in these community oriented projects since they were first proposed. Dr. Havlena will speak about Building Today's Community.


    R.W. Jens Meyer will present certificates of appreciation to 21 people and organizations who are known or have been identified to us as having worked on preserving or beautifying the old portion of this cemetery. Also included among the honorees are some volunteers, mentioned previously, who have worked on the flower-bed in front of the Civil War memorial on the court house lawn, and on other community service projects.