Advance Lodge No. 635 name was chosen by the founders to honor and commemorate the name of the 120-ton wooden brigantine ship USS Advance built in 1847 as Augusta in New Kent County, Virginia. It was loaned to the U.S. Navy on May 7th 1850 by Mr. Henry Grinnell its owner. It was to participate in the search for Sir John Franklin’s Arctic Expedition which had been stranded in the frozen north since 1847. America was also looking for a North West passage across the Arctic west to the Orient. If found would be the shortage route at that time and very valuable to shipping. The Advance was used in two voyagers to rescue the Franklin Expedition. After the first trip Advance returned to New York on September 30, 1851 and was given back to Mr. Grinnell. He immediately began outfitting it for another Arctic rescue expedition which took 20 months. It was called the Second Grinnell Expedition. Advance departed New York on May 30, 1853. The ship was under the command of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane. After picking up needed provisions in Greenland he headed into the frozen north. They endured two winters in the ice packs with shortages of food/fuel, fatigue, scurvy/illness, frostbite/exposure and loss of men. In a state of near hibernation and the hardships of the extreme cold the ship Advance became embedded solidly in the ice.
On May 15, 1855 Kane decided to abandon the Advance and head south to Greenland over the frozen ice packs pulling three small boats on sleds with his ill and exhausted men. On June 18, 1855 his entire party reached open waters. The journey netted 300 miles in 31 days and at that point they took to the boats. The journey alternated between runs across open water under sail and marches across frozen ice total trip of 1300 miles. On July 21, 1855 they reached civilization in Greenland. He returned to New York on October 11, 1855. Presumably, the pack ice eventually crushed and sank the abandoned Advance.
Upon his return from the Second Grinnell Expedition Elisha Kent Kane took ill and spent time in recovery while living in Havana, Cuba. After a year-long illness, Kane died on February 16, 1857 and his funeral cortege then traveled from New Orleans to his final resting place in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.
The ship Advance reached the highest degree at that time of 78 degrees 43’ minutes north. This was the highest degree ever attained by a sailing vessel. This became the motto of Advance Lodge “To the Highest Degree" (Ad Summan) and was depicted in the seal of the Lodge. It was symbolic of the hopes and purpose of our founders to pilot their newly launched craft to the highest degree of Masonic light and service.
Kane Lodge No. 454 (4th Manhattan District) was named in memory of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane and is located in Grand Lodge of New York on 23rd Street, New York, NY. It was granted a charter on June 9th1859 two years after his death. Kane Lodge has a museum located in Grand Lodge that contains many of the artifacts, journals, flags, and uniforms from this expedition that remain in the possession of the Lodge, including the Masthead of the “Fair Augusta” that Kane had removed from the front of the ship and brought back.
With the permission of Kane Lodge an exact replica of the Masthead of the Fair Augusta was plaster cast and is now located and on display in Advance Masonic Temple in Astoria. We thank R\W\S. William Bradley a member of both Kane and Advance Lodge at that time for his efforts to accomplish this task. The plaster cast was painted in the same colors as the original by Brother Steve Hydo still a member of Advance Lodge.
Advance Lodge No, 636 was instituted on July 3, 1867. Due to a merger with Island City Mizpah Lodge No. 586 and approved by the Grand Lodge of New York the new Lodge was instituted as Advance Island City Mizpah Lodge #586 on May 10, 1993.
For more detail information on the above please visit the websites: USS Advance 1847 and Kane Lodge No. 454, Grand Lodge of New York.