LODGES AND SECRET SOCIETIES
Union County Illinois Genealogy Trails
Contributed by Jeana Gallagher
Egyptian Chapter #45 of the Masons
Anna Lodge of AF & A Masons #520
Hiawatha Lodge #291 IOOF
Anna Encampment #69 IOOF
Ionett Lodge #815
Anna Lodge #1892 of the Knights of Honor
newEarly Masonry in Jonesboro, May 7, 1926*
Egyptian Chapter #45 of the Masons
Est. 05 Oct 1858
Anna Lodge of AF & AM #520
Est. 01 Oct 1867
Hiawatha Lodge #291 IOOF
Est. 11 Oct 1860
Anna Encampment #69 IOOF
Est. 10 Oct 1876
Ionett Lodge #815 of Anna
Charter granted by Supreme Lodge of Protection the Knights and Ladies of Honor
Est. 01 Oct 1881
Anna Lodge #1892 of the Knights of Honor
Est. 20 Nov 1879
EARLY MASONRY IN JONESBORO
Transcribed and submitted by Darrel Dexter*
No doubt the following little history will prove of interest to many people in Jonesboro and Union County and especially to members of Ancient Craft Masonry. The same men who had to do with the early making of this country, and of this vicinity in particular, are the same men who founded the early churches and introduced Masonry here in fact all these were contemporary in the early history of Union County.
It was known but vaguely that at about the beginning of Jonesboro Ancient Craft Masonry made its appearance, but up until right recently nothing was known of the facts further than a short legend. The facts are that in June 1822, the first lodge was organized here, to be exact on June 22, 1822, working under a warrant of dispensation by the Grand Lodge of Missouri and later chartered by that body. It will be interesting to note that the first record or a portion of it giving the organization of the local lodge was discovered at St. Francis, Ark., in the possession of a great-grandson of one of the charter members, John Whitaker. The first meeting was held on the date mentioned above. Richard J. Hamilton acting as master, Abner Field senior warden, James I. Smith junior warden, also as steward and Tyler and Benjamin W. Brooks as treasurer, secretary, senior deacon and junior deacon, and the records tell us that Humphrey B. Jones came in and took his seat. James Finney and William M. Alexander, who had been designated as senior and junior warden being absent, Humphrey B. Jones was the first visitor.
After appointing a committee consisting of Abner Field and B. W. Brooks to draft a set of by laws the meeting adjourned to the next evening, June 23rd. At this meeting the same brethren filled the chairs with the addition of George Wolf as junior warden and Jacob Hunsaker as senior deacon. The committee on by laws made report and the same was unanimously adopted. Humphrey B. Jones, a fellow craft, was admitted on demit from Hopkinsville Lodge No. 37 of Kentucky and was raised in the sublime degree of Master Mason, the first man to receive a degree in Masonry in Union County. Jacob Hunsaker, Master Mason was also admitted to membership. The minutes close with this sentence. “Bro. Jones expressed his thanks for the honor conferred and took his seat with the brethren.” This same sentence was invariably put in the minutes after the conferring of any degree, only changing the name of the candidate.
The lodge then adjourned until 9 o’clock the next morning. On opening of the lodge next morning George Wolf was appointed chaplain to deliver a sermon at high noon to the craft. It might be well to note here that George Wolf was one of the early ministers and was a member of what is known as Dunkards, a deeply pious people, and it is said that the two men holding each other by the right hand as appears on the county seal are the same George Wolf and Winstead Davie. The lodge called from labor to refreshment and forming in Masonic procession marched to the home of M. Collins at the close of the sermon, where a splendid dinner had been prepared for the occasion. On returning to the lodge room the sum of $15 was voted Mr. Collins to pay for the dinner as soon as the state of the treasury would allow. Whether he ever got his money or not the records do not say. The lodge adjourned until the next day and having been duly opened received the petition of Winstead Davie for the degrees, the first profane to petition for the degrees, and as the lodge had not yet been chartered the petition was laid before the grand master of the grand lodge of Missouri. The records tell us that shortly afterwards Mr. Davie received the degrees, and it is interesting to note that two of his great-grandsons Dick and Dan Davie, and one grandson, James W. Davie, are now members of Jonesboro Lodge No. 111. W. A. Rendleman, great-grandson of George Hunsaker, a charter member of the lodge, is also a member of Jonesboro lodge.
We learn from the records that some time during July 1822, the lodge had a school of instruction conducted by H. C. Melody, grand lecturer of the State of Missouri, and for which he was voted three dollars per day for nine days and also necessary expenses and a vote of thanks, this debt to be paid by the next meeting of the annual grand communication of the grand lodge. W. B. Morris was also given a vote of thanks for his zeal and assistance in this school. Ben Morris was a member of Union Lodge No. 2 of Indiana. The by laws adopted at the second meeting were signed by fourteen brethren and constituted the charter members. They are as follows:
Richard J. Hamilton, James Finney, Abner Field, B. W. Brooks, James Il Smith, George Hunsaker, John C. Collins, William Hickum, Humprhey V. Jones, Richard M. Young, Charles Dunn, Michael Harmon, and Joseph Duncan. It may well to note here that Charles Dunn was the first probate judge of Union County and Abner Field the first clerk. Other members held various county offices, among them George Hunsaker, Brooks, Smith, and Jones. And others who came in shortly afterward were men prominent in the various early doing as shown by the early county records. The by laws adopted made it the duty of the tyler to provide all refreshments, but it was to be “distinctly understood that spirituous liquors was to form no part of the refreshments, except at the regular festivals, and at those times the cost of these not to exceed two dollars,” and as the price of whiskey was then fixed by the county court at 12 ½ cents per pint, this amount would furnish two gallons for the occasion no doubt enough to furnish each member with a real kick.
The lodge was consecrated and received its charter Nov. 8th, 1822, at which time the ceremony of consecration was preceded by another appropriate sermon by Bro. Wolf. The consecration ceremonies was conducted by R. W. H. C. Melody acting for A. I. Tucker, grand master. At this meeting a communication was read from the lodge at Shawneetown proposing the organization of a grand lodge in this state, and requesting this lodge to appoint one or more delegates to meet with other delegates at Vandalia to consider this proposition. Abner Field and Charles Dunn were chosen as delegates. The lodge also received a communication from the grand lodge of Missouri requiring each member of this lodge to wear crepe for a space of ninety days around his left arm as a mark of respect for William Hafus junior grand warden, who had just died. Think of wearing that now for three months. We have omitted to say in the proper place that the name and number of this lodge was Union Lodge No. 107. Union Lodge No. 627 is now located at Lick Creek, this county. The regular meeting of the lodge was held on the first Saturday of each month and also on the eve of the festivals of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and the quarterly meetings to be held in March, June, September and December each year. The by laws required the secretary to read section three of these by laws at each meeting of the lodge, and we give the same here in full as they are of more than passing interest.
“The members shall attend at the lodge room in the fall and winter months at __ p.m. and at the hour of 1 o’clock p.m. in the spring and summer months and at 9 o’clock a.m. on each of the festivals, to be clothed as Masons at their own expense, visiting brethren alone shall be clothed with the furnature of the lodge. Every member shall pay in to the hands of the treasurer at each quarterly communication the sum of $1.50 as quarterly dues. No member shall be elected to any office or vote at the election of officers who has not discharged his dues, fines, and fees. Any member failing to pay his dues, fees and fines for twelve months shall be suspended. No member shall be permitted to withdraw without having discharged all dues, fees, and fines. No brother shall be charged with dues after he has left this state for six months. (This was later changed to 12 months.) No member shall leave the lodge room without the permission of the master under the penalty of being reprimanded by the master for the first offense and for the second offense to be suspected at the discretion of the lodge.”
If a member disclosed the manner in which any member, including himself, voted on an application for admission for initiation he was forever excluded from the lodge and the privileges of Masonry, and any visiting brother guilty of the offense was forever barred from visiting this lodge again. Any degree conferred at a special meeting was paid for by the person receiving the degree at the rate of two dollars for each special meeting so called, if for that sole purpose. A committee of three was chosen by ballot at each of the festivals who should have charge of and the dispensing of all applications for charity, a certain percent of all dues being set aside for this purpose and this fund was deposited with the grand lodge and paid out on the recommendation of this committee. In case of emergency a man might receive all three degrees the same evening and it was decided by secret ballot whether or not an emergency existed, and it usually did.
In an amended set of by laws in March, 1823, we find the following names added to those already given George Green, Jacob Hyberger, P. Baltzell, Augustus Rixleben, J. C. Collins, John Hunsaker, Jacob Snider, William Story, A. M. Jenkins, Ed Vancil, John Baltzell, Jesse Echols, Allen Penrod, H. L. Webb, Joel Manning, and Henry Lyerly. Just where the lodge met is not given. At the meeting of July 18, 1822, a committee of three was appointed to see the county commissioners and try to obtain permission to use the county building for a lodge room, and also for permission to put in a floor connecting the building with an adjacent room, and as the county records show at this time the courthouse was situated on the public square and was a room or building made of round logs of uniform size, one story high, chinked and daubed with a clapboard roof. The building was floored with planks loosely laid with a door and one window. Adjoining this was a similar building 15 feet square used as a jury room, and it is presumed that these are the building referred to as there was not door leading from the court room to the jury room. And it might be of interest to know that the contract price for this first court house was forty dollars, and for the adjoining building twenty dollars. The jury room was to be used as a preparation room. All candidates for initiation were conducted to the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple, and for the Fellow Craft degree to the middle chamber and for the third degree to the sanctum santorum of the same. Imagine the contrast if you can.
The proceeding at Vandalia in regard to the organization of a grand lodge for Illinois was read and ratified at the meeting of June 7th, 1823, and the secretary was directed to transmit a copy of the same to Shadrach Bond, who had been chosen grand master of this new lodge and he was also the first governor of Illinois. This lodge was duly recognized by this grand lodge and given the number of Union Lodge No. 8, retaining the old name. August 24th 1824, the lodge was still functioning, but from this date the records are gone, and when and how the lodge became defunct cannot be stated, as the grand lodge records say nothing about it in their notes on defunct lodges, and the number 8 is now that of a Macon Lodge. It is the custom in this state when a lodge becomes defunct to let the number go with it.
Not a few distinguished visitors were entertained by this lodge in the first two years of existence, coming from Massachusetts, New York, Indian, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, and other states. Among them we note General Fouch and Col. Hall and Col. Sweet from Kaskaskia. The last records show the following officers: James I. Smith, worshipful master; John Hunsaker, senior warden; John Whitaker, junior warden; George Hunsaker, treasurer; Benjamin W. Brooks, secretary; John Baltzell, senior deacon; Augustus Rixleben, junior deacon.
The writer had tried for thirty years to find some record of this lodge and only recently succeeded in locating the same at St. Francis, Ark., through the help of O. L. Dalton, a great-grandson of John Whitaker, one of the early members. Mr. Dalton is cashier of the bank at St. Francis.
Master, Jonesboro Lodge No. 111
(Jonesboro Gazette, Jonesboro, Illinois, Friday, 7 May 1926)