JAMES KENT. The gentleman whose name heads this sketch is an expert worker in stone, a calling for which he seemed to have a natural aptitude and liking even when a boy. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, October 12, 1837, a son of James Kent and a grandson of Dr. John Kent, of County Kent, England. The early members of the Kent family were prominent in the history of Scotland and one member of the family was an oflicer in the Royal Navy and another in the Scots Guards. The mother of the subject of this sketch was Miss Anna McCallum, a daughter of Alexander McCallum, who was an officer in the Scots Guards. The early life of James Kent was spent in England and Scotland and the principal part of his education was acquired in the Highland and Scotland Society School, in the city of Glasgow, in which institution he received a practical business education. When quite a young lad he manifested a talent for the cutting of stone and in his youth a considerable portion of his time was spent in learning this trade. In the month of June, 1860, he came to the United States, landing at the city of New York. The following notice of his skill appeared in a recent publication:
A WONDER IN MASONIC ART�EMBLEMS CARVED ON A ROUGH ASHLAR.�One of the most interesting and skillfully executed pieces of art work which will be seen in the Missouri exhibit at the Columbian Exposition, is a Masonic table, cut from a rough ashlar, taken from the limestone quarries of South Greenfield, Dade County, Mo.
James Kent, of 230 Division Street, Springfield, Mo., under whose skillful chisel the history of ages has been repeated and the language of all nations spoken, has shown himself to be a master workman, not only in theory, but an operative as well.
There is nothing so remarkable in the simple stone, but that which makes it of interest to all nations, kindreds and tribes, is its ability to speak, in silent emblems, a language known to every nation under the heavens.
Operative masonry, in its history dips back into the very twilight of civilization, ante-dating in its antiquity the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires.
Before the days of Ereck, Accad and Caluth, the principles and language of masonry became familiar to the people in the valley of Shinar. Before the magnificence and glory of Nineveh and Rehoboth, Masonic signs and emblems were known to the Assyrians. Mitzriam, before the days of the pyramids, introduced into Egypt the "Mystic Art " whose emblems and working tools were deposited in the base of Cleopatra's Needle, twenty-three years before the Christian era. Before the days of Chush in South Arabia, and Phuts in West Africa, the principles, signs and symbols of masonry were known to their people. In southeast Asia as well as in the Assyrian Empire, the language of the mystic rite was as familiar to the people centuries ago as it is to us to-day. But masonry reached the acme of its practical utility in the erection of Solomon's Temple, which was begun and completed without the.sound of an axe or hammer.
But it was not my purpose to write a history of Freemasonry, but rather to call attention to this piece of master workmanship which will be of interest to every Freemason who attends the World's Fair and of which every Mason in Missouri will be laudably proud. No description that can be given in the space of a newspaper article can convey to the reader an adequate conception of this lofty idea, chiseled in a solid piece of stone, beginning, as it does, with the rough ashlar, and advancing, step by step, through all the degrees and symbols of Masonry to the Sword and Crescent of the Mystic Shrine.
Every measurement is symbolic and every symbol an unspoken language which will be understood as well by the Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian or West African as by the Master Mason who presides over the lodges of this country. Hundreds of Masons called at the house of Mr. Kent to see this wonderful piece of Masonic workmanship before it was shipped to Chicago, where it will be seen and recognized as a familiar friend to the people of all nations, for the beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory and symbol will illustrate to them the truth that the "universsal chain of friendship encircles the entire human family."
Springfield-Greene County Library