The article below was researched and writen by RWor. Bro. Robert E. Walker. It tells of the history behind the Past Master's Traveling Jewel that Eastern Star uses.
John Brown Coleman, Past Master
The Nantucket Whaling Company came to Dartmouth in 1785 following the United States gaining their independence from Great Britian. The Whaling Company sought a port under the British flag to avoid the duties imposed on whaling products marketed in England. A factory for the oil industry was established in Dartmouth Cove. Thousands of pounds sterling were made in this enterprise which continued to operate until 1792 when the entire industry was moved to Milford Haven in Wales. Most of the employees belonged to the Quaker religion and at least one of their houses still remain. Descendents of two of the families likewise remain, Colemans and Elliots.
The Coleman family left its mark in Dartmouth. In the year 1801, Seth Coleman, who had recently married, was commissioned by Governor Wentworth to make surveys of Sable Island as to the practicability of erecting a lighthouse in the sands of that shifting soil. His subsequent recommendations for wooden lighthouses, signal cannon, and life-saving facilities at both ends of the island were adopted by the Province, and thus pioneered the internationally-known station.
Seth Coleman must have been a man of extraordinary talents. In the fall of 1814, smallpox broke out in the village of Dartmouth. He was recommended by Doctor Samuel Head to render inhabitants medical aid. On orders from Lieut. Governor Sir John Sherbrook, Seth Coleman, with great success, vaccinated over 400 persons in Dartmouth and Preston. He eventually left Dartmouth to return to his native Nantucket.
Seth Coleman and his wife Elizabeth had ten children. John, born in 1800, left Dartmouth at an early age to go to Nantucket to seek employment in the whaling operations. By 1842 he was Master of a whaling-ship working in the Pacific. At Tahiti he signed on a deserter who had been ill-treated on another vessel. This man was Herman Melville, later famous for the story “Moby Dick”. It is said that the vivid descriptions of whale-hunting in Melville’s several novels largely resulted from his training under Dartmouth-born Captain John Coleman.
To Capt. John Coleman, and his wife was born a son, John Brown Cole. Although not as well known as his father and grandfather, John Brown Coleman lived an active life and took a very active role in speculative Freemasonry. He was initiated, passed and raised in St. Mark Lodge No. 11, returning to Dartmouth as a charter member of Eastern Star Lodge No. 26. He served the Lodge in 1868 as Senior Warden, and was installed as Worshipful Master in 1869. He was elected Treasurer in 1881 and held that position for four years. He was re-elected Treasurer in 1894 and served as such for the next eight years. Bro. Coleman, with three other Past Masters, played an active role in the founding of our Masonic Hall. He, and Bro. W.H. Sterns were the Bible Bearers at the ceremony of laying the cornerstone. Bro. Coleman was finally presented with a Past Master’s Jewel at the Fiftieth Anniversary of Eastern Star Lodge No. 51. He was also presented a gold-headed cane. Bro. Coleman passed away at his home on 18th July, 1924. It is the same Past Master’s jewel that we present to our Immediate Past Master every year.