Cherokee Lodge #66, F. & A. M.

 

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Max Meyerhardt

Max Meyerhardt

(A Biographical Sketch)

Published by

Cherokee Lodge No. 66, F. & A. M.

under the direction of the Board of Trustees

Members of the Board

William H. Waits, Past Master, Chairman

R. L. McBurnett, Worshipful Master

A. W. Jeffries, Senior Warden

H. G. Conway, Junior Warden

Milton Tippin, Past Master

W. A. Johnson, Past Master, Secretary

W. B. Wallace, Past Master

 

This is being written some 36 years after the death of one who was illustrious not only in Masonic history but in the history of Rome, Floyd County, and Georgia. Although it is offered as a sketch, and by no means as a complete story of his life, it will afford the Mason of today an opportunity to properly appraise Max Meyerhardt’s vast contribution to Masonry and to society.

We look around us, and if prone to compare other days with the present, we comment proudly on the progress of our city, county and state. We may feel that everything is due to time and change. But we must never leave out the human element, the character of men who lived and worked tirelessly in the interest of humanity. Although the progress to which we point may be results of many men of diverse occupations, there stand in bold relief the lives of those whose highest mission in life was service to humanity. Growth is only the shadow of progress unless men are elevated in mind and spirit.

It is of such a person that we write, Max Meyerhardt, who passed away on March 2, 1923, in his 68th year and who name will ever be spoken with admiration, respect, and love.  Born in Prussia, our distinguished brother had lived in Rome since boyhood, his parents having come to this country when he was but four years of age.

He was married to Miss Nettie Watson April 3, 1891. To bless this union there were six girls and two boys. They are Mrs. Bertram Kaufman, Atlanta; Mrs. Harold Asher, Atlanta; Mrs. Maurice Poss, Chattanooga; Miss Elizabeth Meyerhardt, Atlanta; Mrs. Walter Nathan, Brunswick; Mrs. Sydney Patterson, deceased; Sam Meyerhardt, Texas; and David Meyerhardt, deceased.

In his early youth Brother Meyerhardt was employed in the office of the clerk of the Superior Court. Afterwards, he entered the law office of Capt. C. Rowell, and studied until admitted to the bar, which was about 1877, under the administration of Judge J. W. H. Underwood. Early in his career he became a member of the firm Wright, Meyerhardt and Wright, which was composed of Judge A. R. Wright, Max Meyerhardt and Seaborn Wright. Following the dissolution of this firm, Max Meyerhardt practiced law alone.

He served as Judge of the City Court of Floyd County, 1887-1891, and prior to that time as City Attorney. After 1909 he again served as City Attorney, an office which he held at the time of his death.

When the Rome public school system was organized in 1882, Judge Meyerhardt became a member of the school board, and was elected secretary, a position he held until 1909. We can judge from the things which absorbed his interest, hoe much we of the present are indebted to Max Meyerhardt. We can see the far-reaching effect of his life as it is made manifest in the lives of the thousands of children who have benefited by his vision of a great Rome through an adequate system of education.

His busy life included many activities. He was a member of the board of directors of the Young Men’s Library Association and served as its secretary from its inception until this Association no longer existed. Upon the establishment of the Carnegie Library Association in 1910, he became president of the board of trustees and retained that position until the time of his death. In the story of the establishment of the Rome Carnegie Library, this significant paragraph appears:

The protagonist of the movement in Rome to secure the donation from Andrew Carnegie, who was then living, for our library, was Judge Meyerhardt who had been the highly efficient secretary, and really the manager of the Young Men’s Library Association which ceased to function about 1899.

If there was nothing left to be said about the life of Meyerhardt, it would be to his everlasting credit that his energies, his mind, and his heart were used in the interest of our schools and library.

It is perfectly natural that one whose life was directed toward the betterment of humanity and who sought to leave to earth something that would defy time, should seek Masonry’s door.

Fortunate, too, it was for Masonry, that one so richly endowed should devote his talents and energies to the ideals of Freemasonry. Whether one be a Mason or not, he can readily understand that a man of the stature of Max Meyerhardt would find a rich field for his great intellectual and moral powers in this age-old institution which strives for Universal Brotherhood under Universal Fatherhood.

Here follows a brief account of his Masonic record and honors: Max Meyerhardt was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Cherokee Lodge No. 66, F. & A. M., October 18, 1880.

In 1881, he was elected treasurer, but resigned to accept the appointment of Senior Deacon.

He was elected Worshipful Master in 1883, and served in this office continuously until his death, a total of 39 years.

He was exalted to the Degree of Royal Arch Mason in Rome Chapter No. 26, R. A. M., April 23, 1888, and served as Excellent High Priest from 1893 to 1896.

He was Thrice Illustrious Master of Rome Council No. 15, R. & A. M., and was elected as Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council in 1917.

He was a 32o Scottish Rite Mason and a member of Yaarab Temple of the Shrine.

He organized the Seventh District Masonic Convention in 1897 (the first Masonic District Convention in Georgia, and quite likely in the history of Masonry). He was Worshipful Master of the convention from its inception until his death.

He established the "Masonic Herald," and was its editor for 29 years.

In 1900 he was elected Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, and served continuously for seven years.

Although the genius of Meyerhardt was expressed in many fields of endeavor, it is the opinion of many that his crowning achievement was the establishment of the Masonic Home of Georgia. Who knows hoe long the dream of such a home for children, bereft of parents or the victims of some unfortunate domestic situation, was in the heart and mind of Max Meyerhardt before it became a reality! Here is truly a monument, a living monument, an imperishable image of his great heart and mind.

In October 1902, during the meeting of the Grand Lodge, the cornerstone of the Home was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The completed Masonic Home was dedicated in October 1904. We herewith quote from the addresses of M. W. Brother Max Meyerhardt on these occasions:

Brethren, upon this joyous but solemn occasion I feel as did the great Law-Giver of Israel, when from the burning bush the voice of God was heard, commanding, "Take off thy shoes from off Thy feet, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy ground." . . . May God in very deed dwell within this house. May His holy Shekinah abide within its walls, may His spirit animate those who shall seek shelter here. And may they who pass out from its portals prove a blessing to their day and generations in all the years to come.

Here shall little children come for shelter, home and love. These walls shall resound with the laughter and prattle of happy childhood, rescued from want and penury, and crime, mayhap. Here shall they be taught in secular lore and in the fear and love of God. And in good time they shall go forth in the glory of manhood and the beauty of womanhood, to live useful lives and to adorn happy homes.

This is an historic day! In this august presence, surrounded by this splendid assemblage of Georgia Masons, we renew and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles of our beloved Order. We here proclaim once more Freemasonry’s great and holy mission in the world. Our professions are not "As sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." What constitutes the glory of Masonry? Not its antiquity, though it reaches back to the very dawn of recorded history. Not in magnificent numbers, although nearly two million of men proudly bear allegiance to the compass and the square. Not its costly temples, although they beautify and adorn a thousand cities throughout the world. Not even its sublime ritual, although it is the most inspiring known to man. No, not these. We bear aloft the noblest standard that the world has ever known. It is the beautiful banner of love for humanity, love for the helpless and the afflicted, love for all who need our ministering care. Service and sacrifice—these are our watchwords, these have ever characterized true Masons everywhere.

A sketch of the life of Max Meyerhardt must include something of his deep religious convictions. He was a deeply religious person. He observed the Jewish Sabbath and the Holy days. He organized the Sunday School, which for many, many years was in the Masonic Temple Annex. He was also the moving spirit in the organization of the B’nai B’rith Chapter. He expressed a profound reverence and respect for all religions and was referred to by ministers of the Protestant faith as "a Methodist Jew," a phrase used to denote his tolerant attitude toward all denominations.

An editorial relative to the passing of Max Meyerhardt, which appeared in the Rome paper of March 3, 1923, reveals the strength and determination of this beloved man, and his stature among the citizens of Rome:

 

For many years he had been a leader in civic work and in Masonic circles. As a lawyer he measured up with the best this section of Georgia has produced. As a man and citizen he was widely known and well beloved. During a long and distinguished career, he devoted much of his time and talents to educational work having acted as secretary to the Board of Education for 25 years, from the establishment of the Rome Public Schools to 1909 and since that time his interest in the cause of education has never flagged. Judge Meyerhardt was a man of brilliant intellect, a master of diplomacy, an astute and profound lawyer, a friend whose loyalty was absolute. His accomplishments were many and varied. In almost any field of endeavor, he pushed rapidly to the front. There has perhaps been no

man in the history of Rome, whose capabilities measured up so superbly in anything he undertook. He was a masterful man, and at the same time a sympathetic one. Widely read, splendidly informed, possessing a mental equipment of great analytical power, he easily and successfully held his own in any kind of an argument. A convincing and eloquent orator, he easily swayed an audience with the power of his tongue.  In his death the people of Rome has lost an eminent citizen, a loved and loyal friend, whose career shed lustre not only on his home city, but in all of Georgia. No higher encomium can be passed on to him  Than to say that he was a friend of everybody. The cold terms of formal eulogy cannot do justice to such a man. He loved the common people, and he constantly used his masterful intellect and his untiring energies in their behalf. His passing leaves a void that cannot be filled. The community will feel the loss more and more as the years go by. In the history of the people among whom he lived and worked his name will be handed down as the leader and prophet.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful tributes to our beloved brother is that inscribed on the plaque at the entrance to the Carnegie Library:

 

In memory of Max Meyerhardt, President of the Carnegie Library Association, Rome, Georgia, 1923.

In all the affairs of life he was faithful, honorable, efficient; a leader. In civic work, a Developer of educational institutions, a Mason of peerless proficiency, the friend of the poor, the defender of the helpless; a man whose whole career was filled with beneficent activities in behalf of his people and his city. An eminent lawyer, a ripe scholar, an able orator. Secretary of the Board of Education of Rome 25 years; W. M. of Cherokee Lodge, F. & A. M. 39 years; Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Georgia 7 years; Founder of the Masonic Home at Macon; Attorney for the city of Rome; Judge of the City Court.

 

Funeral services were conducted at the Masonic Temple by Rabbi David Marx. Interment was in the Jewish Cemetery. Masonic graveside services were conducted by Dr. Joe P. Bowdoin, Grand Master. The active pallbearers included S. N. Kuttner, N. Miller, Pressly Esserman, Isaac May, J. C. Harris, Dr. Turner McCall, Capt. J. C. Printup and Grover Byars.

What does the life of Max Meyerhardt hold for every Mason and especially for every member of Cherokee Lodge No. 66, F. & A. M.? We of Cherokee Lodge might lose all of our material possessions, and this indeed would be a tremendous loss, but we can never lose our most valuable possession, the ideals, the achievements and the works of Max Meyerhardt. Here is truly a heritage which must also be a challenge. May we of the present and those who may follow us be faithful to our sacred obligations by carrying out the designs expressed in the life and deeds of our illustrious brother – MAX MEYERHARDT.