(alternate title: I Really Do Come From Circus Folk, although that's the other side of the family.)
My grandfather (mother's father) William H. Galvani (Nikulin) was a 32nd Mason; a member of the Al Kader Shriners in Portland, Oregon. I suppose a lot could be said about all that, given the conspiracy laden history of the Masons. My grandfather, who I never met; he died in the late 1940s, was a Russian (Ukranian)Jew raised, at least openly to society, as Russian Orthodox but practiced Judaism when he came to America in his late teens.
Besides being a 32nd degree Mason, he was also a Buddhist, a vegetarian, and a Theosophist. He wrote a lot of little tracts and books on those subjects -- one I had, on Theosophy, but lost is decades ago -- as well as articles on the history of Oregon and surveying. Surveying/engineering was one of his many careers; so was being mayor of Seaside, Oregon at one time.
But back to the Masons. I've never explored the Masonic conspiracy in any great way, only casually, as any Fortean would, but I have my conspiracy paranoid esoterica plate full as it is.
I have the same photograph I've linked to but have to dig it out. I'll post it at some date but for now, click on the link above. My grandfather is the 6th one in, from the left.
(Yuri Nikulin, no relation.) Speaking of circus folk, and the name Nikulin, I've been doing research on that name as well as family history in general. Discovered Yuri Nikulin, the famous Russian clown/actor. I don't think there's any relation; I would have heard about that I'd think. But the clown connection is interesting.