Early Lee County
Contributed by Joan Achille

On Nov. 6, 1840 the Friendship Lodge No. 7, obtained a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the State of Kentucky, (under whose jurisdiction it then was) with the following charter members:

Johnson, Samuel, W.M.
Nichals, E. G., S.W.
Merritt, W. A., J.W.
VanArnam, John, Treas.
Martin, S. A., Sec.
Kerr, M. P., S.D.
Humbhrey, Alvin, J.D.
Robinson, Isaac
Whitney, Nathan

On Oct. 6, 1841, the lodge received a charter from the Masonic Grand Lodge of Illinois.

From the Dixon Evening Telegraph 1 May 1951 -
When members of Friendship Lodge No. 7, A.F. & A.M. held a grad festival June 23, 1854, they were already the oldest fraternal organization in Dixon and had passed their eleventh birthday. On October 6, 1951, Friendship Lodge will celebrate its 110th anniversary as an Illinois Lodge of Masons, having passed its 110th year of operation Nov. 6, 1950. A history prepared for the centennial celebration indicated that nine Masonic brethren attended a meeting of Ancient York Masons in the Phoenix hotel in Dixon Nov. 6, 1840, a short ten years after Dixon's first settler arrived.

A dispensation had been granted from the Grand Lodge ofKentucky and authorized the lodge ot work under the name of "Friendship." The first petition for degrees was received from William Wilkinson Feb. 4, 1841, with each brotherinstructed to furnish himself with a "neat, white cambric apron," and 12 aprons were bought for visiting brothers. Articles of lodge furniture ordered made and which were constructed by John Dixon for $28.87, were; "three wood candlesticks, one wood mallet,one wood altar, one square and level, two wood columns and four rods." A committee was named to petition the newly organized Grand Lodge ofIllinois for a charter at a special meeting Aug. 29, 1841, and the charter was issued as of Oct. 6, 1841 under the name of Friendship Lodge No. 8.

The lodge number was changed to No 7 afterward, according to a story handed down, when it was revealed that the number 7 had been given to the Decatur lodge by mistake. The messenger who brought the charters for both towns on horseback had delivered the Decatur charter first and next the Dixon charter, but the Friendship Lodge accepted its charter and acknowledged acceptance several hours in advance of the Decatur group. The Dixon lodge became fourth oldest int he state after three before it became extinct. In 1844 the lodge appears to have encountered the effects of the financial depression of the period and members voted to omit observance of St. John's Day because of the expense, although on this day the lodge had always celebrated with speakers, parades and dinners attended by Masonic Brethren from other parts of the then thinly settled country. Dues, originally ten cents a meeting, afterward went ot 12 1/2 cents dropping back to 10 cents in 1848 and jumping to 25 cents in 1855.

Each member paid his own annual 50cent Grand Lodge fee. In 1848 a fine of 25 cents was ordered for those who failed to attend regular meetings, but in 1849 it was deemed expedient to "forgive all dues in arrears, and that all Brethren who have been suspended for nonpayment of dues be, and are, hereby reinstated." The earlier meetings of the lodge were held in the "upper room" of the Phoenix hotel, and the lodge was later housed in the Dixon hotel, on the south side of First street, in the courthouse, in rooms over the Alexander and Howell hardware store, as joint tenants with the Odd Fellws in their hall and in the A.T. Murphy building.

The Masons were tenants for years on the 3rd floor of the Ebinger building on the northeast corner of First street and Galena avenue, and in 1897, they erected their own building at the corner of 1st and Peoria avenue, dedicating it Feb. 25, 1897, where they stayed until 1927, when the building was sold. The present lodge quarters, a gift of the William b. Brinton residence, was enlarged for the fraternity and the lodge room dedicated Dec. 30, 1927, with Most Worshipful Brother Louis L. Emerson, Grand Master and later governon of Illinois, in charge. Because Friendship lodge was the first Masonic lodge in this part of the state, Msaons in other communities had to secure a waiver and endorsement by the lodge before beginning lodges of their own. Early applications included Grand Detour, Oregon, Fulton and Sterling.

Membership varied, reaching 666 in the 1920s and reflected a considerable degree the financial conditions of the community and the country at large, since fraternal organizations appear to be among the first to suffer from financial depressions. many members and former members of Friendship lodge are entitled tos pecial mention, and those who have attained special Masonic honors outside the lodge, include: Most Worshipful brother george H. Thummel, who was made a Master Mason in this lodge in 1859, laer moving to Grand Island Nebraska, where he was instrumental in organizing a Masonic lodge. He was Grand Master of Nebraska in 1876 and was active in Organizing the Masonic home at Portsmouth and the home for children at Fremont. Most worshipful Brother James A. Hawley, was Master of Friendship lodge many years, Grand High Priest in 1871, Grand Master in 1872 and 1872 and Grand Commander of Knights Templar in 1873. Right Worshipful Brother Glen F. Coe was Master of this lodge in 1917, Grand lecturer and Grand COmmander ofKnights Templar in 1926. The following members have been created Grand Lecturers; Glen F. Coe, W.W. Trautman, Charles W. Swim, O.W. Dodd and hte late Harry W. Stauffer and C.C. Rorick. Right Worshipful Brother Charles W. Swim is present District Deputy Grand Master and W.W. Trautman is Junior Past District Deputy.

Every spring Friendship Lodge members gather for a feast and degree work in honor of the Past Mastrsof the lodge. Surviving Past Mastersusually participate in the degree work and suitable commemorative services areheld for deceased Masters. Present officers elected June 8, 1950 are Worshipful Master, Edgar F. Deets; Senior Warden George A. Stiles; Junior Warden, George L. Kauffman; Treasurer Albert H. Ferger; and Secretary Lucius H. Thomson. Installation ceremonies June 23, 1950 also included the following appointive officers; Chaplain Roy K. Zickuhr; Senior Deacon, Earl F. Slagle, Jr.; Junior Deacon, Henry Delattre; Senior Steward, Ivan T. Wallace; Junior Steward, Neil Howell; Marshal, Marvin Callow; and Tyler, Herman Schick.

Members of Friendship Lodge are proud of their lodge'shistory and feel it has contributed its share to the advancement and improvement of Dixon. Some 1600 men have received degrees from the lodge and signed its rolls. Many have done credit to the lodge after leaving Dixon by receiving honors and those who remain endeavor to help make the world a better, friendlier place. Credit goes to Worshipful Brother Harry W. Thomson and the late Brothers James B. Lennon and D.W. McKenney for the lodge history preparation.


On June 23, 1854 the Masonic Fraternity held a grand festival at the Dixon House.
Stiles, E. B. Marshal
Baker, Henry N. Asst. Marshal
Porter, Jerome Asst. Marshal
Danna, F. R. Committee
Atherton, L.W. Committee
Stevens, John Committee
Rogers, J. K. Committee
Baker, E. B. Committee
Soule, F. A. Orator

Dixon's third Masonic organization, Council No. 7 of Royal and Select Masons, was organized under dispensation on Dec. 1, 1863 at Masonic Hall.

Officers were: James A. Hawley, thrice Illustrious Grand Master; A.R. Whitney, Deputy Grand Master; I.S. Boardman, Principal Conductor of the Work; W.A. Levanay, Captain of the Guards; Joseph Ball, Recorder; H. Morgan, Treasurer; and H.S. Mead, Sentinel.

Late in the 19th century the original council gave up its charter. The present council was reorganized July 25, 1917, with 37 charter members, under dispensation. On Sept. 12, 1917, the council received its charter and received the same name as the original organization, "Dixon Council No. 7 of Royal and Select Masons,"

Charter members of 1917 still living in and about Dixon today are Mark C. Keller, Louis A. Pitcher, Henry H. Hagen, Willliam H. Ware, Guy H. Merriman, Grover W. Gehant, Glen F. Coe, Leonard G. Rorer, Clark W. Rickard, Fred P. Dana, Harry L. Quick adn George C. Dixon. Membership has grown from the original 37 to the present day total of 75 active members.

The present officers include: Thrice Illustrious Master, Sylvan E. Petticord; Illustrious Deputy Master, Joseph Q. Dauntler; Principal Conductor of the Work, Volney E. Storey; Treasurer, Charles B. Fowler; Recorder, Charles N.A. Richards; Chaplain, William H. Jamison; Captain of the Guard, Louis E. Etnyre; Conductor of the Council, Holly E. Campbell; Marshal, Raymond E. Schmidt; Steward, George M. Ransom, and Sentinel, Harry H. Hulsart. There are 18 living past Thrice Illustrious Masters who maintain active membership in the organization - Glen F. Coe, Charles B. Fowler, Sidney J. Eichler, Leonard G. Adams, Walter W> Trautman, Raymond E. Schmidt, William H. Nettz, Ralph M. Ferguson, Harry H. Hulsart, Harry W. Thomson, JOhn R. Witzleb, Charles N.A. Richards, Harold S. Coss, Louis E. Etnyre, Robert A. Thompson, Lyle R. Melvin, Merton Ransome and William H. Jamison.


In late April, 1903, the work of excavating for the new Odd Fellows building in Dixon wsa started. The lot, located at the corner of Galena avenue and second street, was considered to be one of the most favorable locations in the city and was purchased for $7,000 from J.F. Palmer. The building was made possible through the bequest of the late C.F. Emerson. The building and lot together were estimated to cost $24,000 and the building was completed and ready for occupancy by the close of the year.


On July 16, 1853 a division of the Sons of Temperance was instituted under the name of Lee County Division, No. 376, and the following named gentlemen elected officers:
Wood, L. P.W.P.
Andrews, W. H. W. P.
Kerr, J. W. A.
Clute, J. W. F. S.
Crow, W. H. H. R. S.
Murphy, A. T. T.
Kelsey, H. O. C.
Brookner, C. H. A. C.
About a month later, the paper, in speaking of this society, says that it is "increasing very rapidly, already numbering some fifty members."