Illinois Genealogy Trails

Masons of Wabash Lodge No. 179
©Transcribed by Kim Torp

A.F. & A. Masons
Etna, Illinois
[Coles County, IL]

Many thanks to Sheran Gottschalk for taking the time to scan this whole book and send it to me a page at a time!!! Any transcription errors are mine however.

Clemme Goar, who is mentioned in this book, was Sheran's ggg-grandfather. She notes that Enoch Hart is buried in Zion Hill Cemetery rather than Campground Cemetery as the book says.


The purpose of the authors in preparing this little book was, first, that the members of Wabash Lodge might become better acquainted with its origin and history without the difficulty of perusing several volumes of records, some of which, on account of poor hand-writing and age, are scarcely legible. Second, that we might have in a handy, compact form the names of all who have been members of this lodge from its organization to the present time, as well as the officers thereof. Such a record, we feel sure, will be fully appreciated by all who have been members of Wabash Lodge, as well as their children and grand-children. Third, that we might all become more familiar with the character of some of our noble pioneers, who were true and loyal Masons, as well as with that of some of a later period, who, confronted with difficulties and dangers such as we know not of, never faltered nor flinched, but pressed forward in the path of duty. Fourth, that a better knowledge of the dangers encountered and the hardships endured by those patriotic and loyal forerunners of Freemasony in this part of Illinois, together with periods of prosperity and adversity through which this lodge has passed, may inspire us with zeal and strengthen our minds, that we, the members of today, may guide our footsteps and our beloved institution a right.

In collecting information for this little work, we encountered much difficulty, for our records alone do not furnish us all the information we wished, and our thanks are due to many persons who have kindly assisted us in various ways, especially in the collection of information for our biographical sketches, that we take this method of extending them our thanks. So great was the difficulty that at times it looked as if our effort must needs be abandoned. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of Brother A.G. Apperson, on whom, as secretary of this lodge and as secretary of this committee, most of this labor devolved, this little volume would, in all probability, never have been written. But through the several years this committee has been at work he was the active head, and went patiently on, seeking, collecting and collating the information desired, and now, as we close our labors, we desire to extend to Brother Apperson the especial thanks of this committee.

There are numerous names on our rolls -- names of men who, in many ways, contributed to the welfare of the lodge, biographical sketches of whom would ornament these pages; but in determining what sketches we would write, we decided on our charter members and masters, and our time and space would not permit more. Care has been taken to have all of our statements correct, and they are believed to be so, and in this connection we will say that in the collection of our information we encountered much that would have been interesting, but, lacking proper verification, we omitted it. Practically all of our old members have passed away. Of those who, in any way, had anything to do with the organization of Wabash Lodge, or even attended its first few meetings, Dr. S.D. Gardner, now 82 years old and living at Gays, Illinois, is believed to be the only one now living. By the death of those early members and pioneers, this history loses much in the way of interesting incidents, which they could have furnished. Perhaps later more light will be shed on incidents omitted here, and some later writer with a more facile pen will give them proper attention.

As we close our work and lay aside our pen, let us hope that the objects in writing this history, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this preface will be attained, and that the close of this, our first 50 years of existence as a lodge, will be but the beginning of centuries of useful labor to come for our beloved institution.

Dr. S.D. Gardner, Gays, Ill.
Believed to be the only one now living who assisted at the organization of Wabash Lodge, No. 179, May 23, 1854

WABASH Lodge, No. 179, A.F. and A.M. was organized May 23, 1854, and worked under a dispensation, issued by W.B. Warren, then Grand Master of Illinois Grand Lodge of Masons until a charter was issued October 2, 1855, at the afternoon session of Grand Lodge, on that date, James L. Anderson, Grand Master.

The first officers of Wabash Lodge were are follows:

U.D. May 23 to December, 1854

Charter issued October 2, 1855

A.H. Chapman.......Worshipful Master A.H. Chapman.......Worshipful Master
N.W. Chapman.......Sector Warden N.W. Chapman.......Sector Warden
A.W. Waller.........Junior Warden A.W. Waller.........Junior Warden
Geo. W. Albin......Secretary S.D. Gardner.........Secretary
Thos. J. Reynolds.....Treasurer Thos. J. Reynolds.....Treasurer
W.L. South.................Senior Deacon W.L. South.................Senior Deacon
John Apperson...........Junior Deacon H.B. Worley..............Junior Deacon
Isaac Hart...................Tyler Isaac Hart...................Tyler
H.B. Worley...............Stewards
W.H. Clark
J.A. Hart......................Stewards
Geo. W. Al??
John Apperson............Chaplain John Apperson............Chaplain

Wabash Lodge was first located at Paradise, Coles county, Ill., and occupied what was then known as the old mud house. This mud house was built for Clemme Goar, one of the early pioneer Methodist ministers of Coles county, by John Milward and was first used as a store and dwelling. It was erected in the year 1837, and was situated on the southwest corner of the block of lots now owned by John Hart, and was built against the south bank of the branch running through these lots. The construction of this building was made by erecting a parallel row of studding about six or eight inches apart and filling in this space with clay mixed with straw. This was for the walls and was the peculiar part of its construction, and from which it derived its name. Within its rude walls peace and brotherly loved prevailed and the lodge prospered here in Paradise.

In 1860, this lodge moved its location to Etna. The chief reason for this move was the building of the Illinois Central railroad which left Paradise about one mile to the west. After the building of this railroad the greatest growth of the country was along the lines of railroad and the glory of Paradise began to depart. Its merchants left, its industries moved, and it soon ceased to be a center of trade or travel and only a few old pioneers are left to tell its departed hopes, ambitions and vanities.

Dr. Chas W. Bishop
[b. June 25, 1866
d. April 3, 1904] can't read

In this connection we deem it proper to say more than a mere passing remark concerning the village of Paradise where the Lodge was first located.

*** Paradise village is situated in the southwestern part of Coles county and in the northwestern part of Paradise township. It was platted and laid out in 1837, and so is one of the oldest villages in Coles county as well as this part of the state. It is near the line of what was the old stage route from Terre Haute to St. Louis, and in 1854 was one of the thriving villages between those two cities.

At the time of the laying out of the village, James T. Cunningham was then a member of the legislature at Vandalia, and to him was accorded the honor of naming the village, and he called it Paradise, and it was so recorded. Why this name was chosen the early annals of Coles county does not state.

But when we think of the condition that existed in those early times -- the venerable woods, the broad and fertile prairies with the creek moving in pensive quietness between timber and prairie alike, abundantly supplied with game, a fertile soil which rewarded the industry of the husbandman, it no doubt reminded him of the Happy Hunting Grounds of the Indians which added to the thought, this goodly land is for us and our descendants in the joy of that possession, it was called Paradise, after that spot where the history of man began.

Robt. C. Goar

We take the following from a history of Coles County, compiled by W.H. Perrine, A.A. Graham and D.M. Blair: The village of Paradise often facetiously referred to as Paradise Lost, was surveyed and platted by Joseph Fowler for Miles W. Hart and Clemme Goar, in the spring of 1837. In order to procure the erection of a steam mill at this point on the Little Wabash, Thomas Brinnegar and David Moore had made to Hart and Goar, a donation of 40 acres of land and on a portion of this adjacent to the mill site, the town plat was laid. Soon after the laying out of the village, a public sale of lots occurred and some $500.00 or $600.00 worth were disposed of.

In the fall of 1836 Hart came from Kentucky on a visit to friends and relatives living in Wabash Point and on his way called to see Mr. Goar, his brother-in-law, then living in Indiana. While here he perfected arrangements for building a mill and starting a town. He afterward induced Mr. Goar to take an interest with him. He returned to Kentucky and in the winter of 1836 came back with his family. Mr. Goar with his family came early in the spring of 1837.

[Top Left] 1. J.L. Hart, Jr. 2. H.R. Mathews
[Center] 3. Dr. P.W. J. Deckard
[Bottom Left] 4. John H. Gray, Gays, Ill 5. Oliver Hart

The first citizen of the place was Pleasant Hart, who built his residence and occupied it during the winter of 1836. In the spring of 1837 Hart and Goar each constructed a mud house and the same spring began the erection of their mill. This was the first steam mill built in all this section. During the summer they raised the frame covered it in and arranged for running one set of corn buhrs and a saw. It had been in operation but a short time when it caught fire and burned down. The loss was total there being no insurance either upon the building or machinery. Having received liberal donations from the citizens in aid of the loss sustained in 1839, they again built upon the same site at a cost of not less than $5,000.

John L. Henley

This mill was operated some eight or ten years. Not long after the completion of the second mill, Hart sold his interest to his brother, Aaron Hart and at the end of six months he sold his interest to Mr. Goar. In 1845 Goar sold out to George M. Hanson who operated it about one year and then sold to Bird Monroe. Monroe continued the work one year longer and moved the machinery to Charleston, thus Paradise lost her greatest and best improvement.

James H. Williams
Miles W. Hart brought and sold the first goods in the village. He is not however regarded as the first merchant, as he simply brought what he did for the purpose of supplying the hands while engaged in constructing the mill. Bird Monroe opened out the first store about 1842 or 1843. Soon after, John Cunningham moved his stock down from Richmond in Mattoon township. Miles W. Hart put up the first store house and was perhaps the first postmaster.

A brick church was erected by the Methodist society in 1853 or 1854. This has since been removed and rebuilt on the hill just west of the village and is called Zion Hill church. The new building was erected in 1869 at a cost of $2500.00 and has a seating capacity of 300 persons. Before the building of the church, public worship was held at the house of Uncle Clemme Goar. Schools may have been and probably were kept in the village at different times but so far as we have been able to learn no building was ever erected for that special purpose. ***

[top Left] 1. Albert Montgomery 2. J.W. Montgomery
[Center] 3. J.J. Bartlett
[Bottom Left] 4. Joseph Abel 5. Geo. E. Blandford

When in 1864 the I.C.R.R. was finally located about one mile and a half east of Paradise her star of destiny began to rapidly decline. Mattoon sprang into existence at the crossing of the Illinois Central and Big Four railroad and a station was established a few years later at Etna. Trade flowed into other channels, soon her merchants deserted her for fields promising amore abundant harvest and she was left alone to weep over blighted hopes and buried prospects. Once she was the pride and joy of the surrounding country; now her name is often spoken with a jeer. Yet in the midst of her distresses she can truthfully say to the proud city of Mattoon, "long before thou was't I existed." At one time Paradise counted her citizens by the hundred, had four good stores, shops of different kinds and was a place in which much business was transacted. Now her citizenship does not exceed fifty. In her case at least there seems to be a clear demonstration of the truthfulness of that seemingly paradosical expression to kill a thing effectually, it is sometimes only necessary to miss it. Had the railroad passed through Paradise village, she had still been living, but passing by as it did, it effectually destroyed her.

Alfred M. Brast

William L. Campbell

At the organization of Wabash Lodge, in 1854, the country was thinly settled. Masons were scattered and far apart, roads were few and poorly worked, and much of the year impassable. The method of travel was on foot, horse-back and by ox train. Game and wild animals were plentiful, and the brother returning home by the light of the moon would frequently have his meditations broken by the howling of the wolves. The telegraph though discovered was as yet undeveloped, the telephone undreamed of and the railroads were just beginning to enter the then undeveloped west. Mails were carried by stage coach, pony express on horse-back and on foot. Postage was high and rural free delivery of mails as yet unthought of. Daily papers were as yet confined to the larger cities and communication with the outside world was slow.

Nor was it considered than an honor to be a Mason. Owning to a great ---? Masonic movement that had recently convulsed the entire country there was still much prejudice against the fraternity especially in some communities. Brother was shunned by his brother, discouraged by his family, expelled by his church and ostracised by society for having joined the craft.
In spite of these adverse conditions, the opposition of man and apparent opposition of nature, Wabash Lodge was organized May 23, 1854. It has been our effort to learn if possible to whom was due the honor of first suggesting the organization of a Masonic Lodge in the neighborhood, but in this we were not entirely successful. The nearest we could come to it was a chance meeting about Thanksgiving 1855 in Monroe & Chapman's store in Paradise of Dr. John Apperson of Charleston Lodge, No. 35., A.H. Chapman, Dr. N.W. Chapman, H.B. Worley, Bedford Mitchell entered apprentice from Bowling Green, Ky., S.D. Gardner from Hartford Lodge, Hartford, Kentucky and possibly, Absolam W.Waller, though am not certain as to the last one at which, meeting the subject was discussed.

[Top left] 1. Harry Figenbaum 2. E.T. Allen
[Center] 3. Wm. A. Walden
[Bottom left] 4. Jas. Vandeventer 5. H. Clay. Hart

It appears to have been previously mentioned however and at subsequent meetings of them and others, the matter was again discussed until it took definite form and a dispensation was applied for and obtained. This dispensation was granted to A.H. Chapman, N.W. Chapman, A.W. Waller and others by W.B. Warren, then Grand Master of Illinois, and was succeeded by charter granted Oct. 2, 1854 as elsewhere mentioned.

B.D. Hamblen

It has also been our effort to learn as far as possible what lodge as well as what state our charter members hailed from. In this we encountered much difficulty and the degree of our success will be shown in the biographical sketches of those members.

One of the first things to be done at the organization of lodges or other bodies is to adopt some form of government. Accordingly we find that at first meeting of Wabash Lodge, May 28, 1854 the By-Laws of Charleston Lodge, No. 35 were chosen for the government of Wabash Lodge. To this extent at any rate Wabash Lodge may be considered a child of Charleston Lodge. At the same meeting a committee was appointed to prepare by-laws. This committee reported in due time with by-laws which were adopted, and have been succeeded by other by-laws until the adoption of the ones in use at present which were adopted in 1885.
In the early history of Wabash Lodge, the meetings were held on the first and third Friday of each month, but by resolution introduced May 20 and adopted June 17, 1859 the meeting was changed to once a month and Friday night on or before the full moon was chosen as the meeting night, and has remained so ever since. This has been the meeting night for so long that the memory of its members runneth not to the contrary.

Robert Carlyle

When Wabash Lodge was first organized it was before the introduction of kerosene, gasoline or electric light and the lodge room was lighted by tallow candles placed in candle sticks on to each station or desk while others were placed on candle brackets on the walls. A candle bracket was made by taking two small pieces of board and boring a hole partly through one piece of such a size as to receive and hold a candle. This piece was then nailed at right angle to the other small piece of board which in turn was nailed to the wall and on the bracket thus formed, a lighted candle was placed. This was the general method of lighting halls and churches at that time and some of our old records still show where they were stained by the melted tallow dropping from the lighted candle nearly fifty years ago. A method so different from the ones now in general use as to be deemed worthy of mention.

[top left] Mrs Maggie Mann 2. Geo. W. Wilson 3. Mrs. Rosa Wilson
4. F.E. Wilson 5. N.P. Wilson

In consequence of frequent reference in this work to Camp Ground and Dry Grove, we deem the following explanation of those names and places in order. Dry Grove is located in the northeastern part of Paradise township, Coles County. It was originally quite a grove of very fine timber embracing several hundred acres and in common with other groves in the early days which were scattered over the state like timber islands in a sea of prairie was given a name to distinguished (sic) it, and this one was called Dry Grove. It has borne this name from the earliest history of the county. Why it was called Dry Grove no one knows.

Wm. J. Payton

Possibly the first settler saw it in a dry time and gave it the name it now bears and never saw it in a wet time to give it a more appropriate name. Owing to the fact the early settler located in the timber where he could find logs for his cabin, wood for fuel and timber for rails to fence his land, Dry Grove was one of the early settled spots in Coles county and though the man who named it is lost to local fame, and the timber of the grove generally cut away the NAME remains. In 1834 a Methodist Episcopal church, rude for our times but ample for those primitive days stood on the banks of the Little Wabash a few rods east of where the present Mattoon-Paradise township line crosses that stream. The country at that time was very thinly settled, settlers and settlements were far apart and churches were still father and this church became as many others erected in the wilderness, a center
toward which the inhabitants flocked to worship God as they saw fit and hear the word preached according to their belief. The local ministers or as they were termed in those days "the circuit riders" going to or returning from their annual conference would pause here and hold a few days meeting. Those coming from a distance to attend these meetings were received into the homes of those living in the neighborhood, until the name and fame of this meeting place became such

J.R. Deckard

that people came and camped on the grounds during the meetings in order that they might miss none of them. This soon gave rise to the name "Camping Ground" which became shortened to Camp Ground as now commonly called. So popular were these meetings that at one time people found be found on the grounds from almost any direction within a radius of 25 miles, and many from still farther.

In the course of time a few graves were made here and then a few more until it became a regular burying ground and it is here that this lodge has with solemn ceremony laid to his last long sleep many a well beloved brother. It was here this lodge in August, 1854, held its first funeral ceremony over the remains of Brother Willis H. Clark, and it was here in March 1903, almost fifty years later that they gathered around the bier of brother Johnson.

Reference is also made to Wabash Point and Muddy Point places not mentioned in the geography of the county and we offer the following explanation: The term "point" in the early nomenclature of this part of the state referred to the pointer-like strips of timber along the streams and extending out into the prairie like the point index finger of a hand. These points of timber were generally called after the creek flowing through them, and the term "Wabash Point" to the early pioneer meant the place where the timber along the Wabash points out into the prairie, Muddy Point meant the same for the timber along Muddy creek, etc.

Thomas Ferguson
Nor were Masonic lodges plentiful. In 1854 the nearest lodge on the west was at Shelbyville, at Charleston on the east, Effingham and Vandalia on the south, Tuscola and Springfield on the north. Wabash Lodge from its seat at Paradise exercised jurisdiction wholly or in part over the territory now presided over by the lodges at Mattoon, Windsor, Neoga, Lerna, Trilla, Gays, Humbolt and Stewardson. Many of the men who were instrumental in organizing those lodges received their degrees and Masonic training in the hall of Wabash Lodge at Paradise. Sept . 25, 1863, Jesse Beals, J.B. Hart, W. Wiott, L. Landers, S. Landers, demitted from Wabash Lodge, No. 179, with the recommendation they form a new lodge in Muddy Point, which they and others succeeded in doing and the lodge was afterwards chartered as Muddy Point Lodge, No. 396 and was over the Beals church.
This lodge was later moved to Trilla, Ill., and it was from this lodge that men went to organize Lerna Lodge, No. 788, from which we might regard Muddy point Lodge as a child and Lerna Lodge as a grand-child of Wabash. George W. Albin, who was admitted at the organization of Wabash Lodge, demitted in 1858 and became a charter member and first master of Neoga Lodge, No. 279. Absalom W. Waller, a charter member of Wabash demitted in 1858 and with other brethren joined in organizing Neoga Lodge, No. 279. N.W. Chapman, a charter member of Wabash demitted in 1858 and became a charter member and first master of Mattoon Lodge, No. 260. Charles H. Brunk and J.D. Bruce were made Masons in Wabash Lodge, demitted in 1858 and with other brethren assisted in organizing Windsor Lodge, No 322 at Windsor, Illinois.
A.G. Apperson
The reader will no doubt notice the number of demits in 1858, and wonder why. The reason is, the Illinois Central railroad and what is now the Big Four railroad had recently been built and the towns of Mattoon, Windsor and Neoga were just then springing up and their growth was more promising that Paradise. The decline of Paradise elsewhere mentioned was now in progress.

In March, 1858, H.B. Worley, one of our early members and one who had assisted in the organization of Wabash Lodge demitted and joined with other brethren in organizing Miles Hart Lodge, No. 595, now located at Gays, Illinois, but at that time located about two miles west of Paradise, where Brother Worley lived. We might mention numerous other cases but we deem these sufficient, and will only add we know not how many members have demitted and gone to a new country and when there assisted in organizing a lodge in their community.

Joseph F. Goar
The Village of Etna, where Wabash Lodge has been located for more than forty years is situated in the southwestern part of Coles county and was platted and laid out by H.B. Worley and others about 1857, 1858 or 1859, and here Wabash Lodge was located for the second time in the southwestern part of the village over what was then the Christian church. Here in its new home it again prospered, having moved to this location in the latter part of 1860, and yet perhaps passed through its stormiest period, that period when all this nation was almost rent asunder. But brotherly love prevailed, harmony and peace were restored and Wabash Lodge emerged with its fair name unsullied. This period between 1861 and 1865 also marked a wonderful growth of Wabash Lodge which perhaps during these years had its greatest membership. But owing to the ravages of time and other causes, the old Christian church fell more or less into disuse and the building became unsafe, so that after due deliberation among the brethren it was decided to again seek a new home. This time which was the third move made by Wabash Lodge, it was located near the center of Etna and occupies the second story over B.D. Hamblen's store building, moving to its third and present location, Dec. 14, 1888.

Ed Payton (top left) and John L. Bell

Jacob Baines

The lodge has prospered since moving into its present abode although it has seen some gloomy years. It owns its present home clear of debt and has ample funds in its treasury to tide it over the breakers financially, for several years of depression should they ever come. Its present membership is over forty, all of whom we trust appreciate the principles that Masonry teaches.

On the pages of this history you can trace the passage of time and in the names of the brethren who have gone on before there is plenty of food for reflection. So breathen let us all with one resolve learn to live truer and better Masons.

Henry Figenbaum


[Top left]: 1. Harry Hendrix 2. Ernest Chamberlin
[Center] 3. J.F. Lawson
[Bottom Left] 4. Hayes Montgomery 5. Joshua B. Akers


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