INSCRIPTION: Engraved on front at top: “HIRAM • LODGE • No. 7”; engraved on front around the center circle: “H*T*W*W*S*S*T*K*S*”; engraved on front at bottom: “JOHN • DEAN”; engraved on reverse: “1798”. Tennessean John Dean (1803-1875), husband of Eliza Andrews Dean (1802-1879), would have been 22 years old when the cornerstone for Hiram Lodge No. 7, in Franklin, Williamson Co., Tennessee was laid in 1825.
FORM: “Mason’s medals” were an important form of regalia that included personal medals indicating membership and commemorating initiation into the degrees of Masonry. In the late eighteent and early nineteenth centuries the medals were suspended from a silk ribbon worn around the neck, the color of the ribbon consistently indicating use within the Masonic degrees. “In the 18th century a profusion of medals illustrating the symbols of Freemasonry were made for the personal use of Masonic bretheren. They were worn not as symbols of office [as Masonic jewels were] but as badges that proclaimed the owner’s Masonic affiliation… ‘These medals are usually of silver, and some have them highly finished and ornamented, so as to be worth ten or twenty guineas. They are suspended round the neck with ribbons of various colours, and worn on their public days of meeting, at funeral processions, & c. in honour of the craft. On the reverse of these medals it is usual to put the owners coat of arms, or cypher, or any other device that the owner fancies, and some even add to the emblems other fancy things that bear analogy to Masonry.’ ” From “Material Culture of the American Freemasons” by John D. Hamilton (Lexington, MA: Museum of our National Heritage, 1994), pp. 97 and 126.
Hiram Lodge No. 7, in Franklin, Williamson Co., Tennessee is the oldest continually operated lodge in Tennessee, chartered in 1809 (formerly been Lodge No. 55 of North Carolina). The Masonic Hall at Franklin is the oldest Masonic building in the state, its cornerstone was laid in 1825. John Dean would have been 22 years old when the cornerstone for Hiram Lodge No. 7 was laid in 1825, the same year Dean married Alice Woodward.