History of St. Charles, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri

written and compiled from the most authentic official and private sources, including a history of their Townships, Towns, and Villages, together with a condensed History of Missouri; a reliable and detailed history of St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren Counties -- their pioneer record, resources, biographical sketches of prominent citizens; general and local statistics of great value; incidents and reminiscences.

Chapter 12 - SECRET ORDERS

For the facts referring to the early history of Freemasonry in the city of St. Charles, we are indebted to Joseph H. Alexander, who contributed a series of interesting articles upon that subject, entitled "Historical Notes of the Rise and Progress of Freemasonry in St. Charles." The first charter granted for holding a Masonic Lodge3 in St. Charles, bears date October 6, 1819, while Missouri was still a Territory. It was granted by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. The lodge had been working under a dispensation from July 5, same year. The charter was given at Nashville, and is signed by O. B. Hayes, Grand Master; W. Tannehill, D.G.M.; S. B. Marshall, S.G.W.P.T.; Wm. G. Dickerson, J.G.W.

At the date of its organization, the lodge had 13 members. The names of only three are now known -- these are the three officers named in the charter, and their names are Benjamin Emmons, Bennett Palmer and Rowland Willard. The lodge prospered, for in 16 months after it was organized, 32 degrees were conferred -- 12 of the first, 10 of the second, and 11 of the third -- and the membership more than doubled. The lodge was granted another charter from the Grand Lodge of Missouri, October 11, 1822, and its name changed to Hiram Lodge No. 3.

From the first return made to the Grand Lodge, by Hiram Lodge, October 5, 1822, we find that considerable work was done, especially in November and December, 1821, the lodge conferring 7 degress in the former month at three meetings, and 14 in the latter at six meetings. An inspection of the returns also shows that the lodge must have been working for the benefit of others, as well as themselves, for G. W. Ash, who was raised November 26, 1821, demitted March 7, 1822; James Alcorn, Daniel Monroe, Richard H. Waters and Samuel C. Owens, raised in December, 1821, demitted in January, 1822, and Bernard O'Niel, raised January 12, 1822, demitted during the same month, these demissions in all probability being made for the purpose of organizing a lodge in some other frontier settlement.

The second report to the Grand Lodge is dated the first Monday in October, 1824, and gives the following list of officers: William G. Pettus, master; Stephen W. Foreman, S.W.; Rowland Willard, J.W.; Nathaniel Simonds, Treas.; Henry Hays, Sec.; William Smith, S.D.; John Lilly, Jr., tyler; Benjamin Walker, steward. On the 10th of April, 1826, Edward Bates, M.W.G.M., being in the chair, Archibald Gamble presented the proceedings of Hiram Lodge, with a resolution passed by said lodge, surrendering the charter, jewels and furniture. On the 13th of April, the committee to whom the matter was referred, made the report, that the Grand Lodge consent that the charter to Hiram Lodge be returned, and the lodge be dissolved.

Thus closed the history of Hiram Lodge No. 3, the second lodge opened and operated in St. Charles. The fire had ceased to burn and the light had departed from the Masonic altar in 1826, and Masonry in St. Charles had ceased to exist, except as embodied in the persons of those who had received its light and benefits. So far as any record appears there was no Masonic life in St. Charles, from 1826 (the date of the dissolving of Hiram Lodge No. 3) to 1837, a period of more than 10 years. The first sign of revival is the following petition: --

To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Missouri:

The petitions hereof, humbly showeth, that they are Ancient, Free and Accepted Master Masons. Having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, they are willing to exert their best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles fo Masonry. For the convenience of their respective dwellings, and for other good reasons, they are desirous of forming a new lodge in the town of St. Charles, to be named St. Charles Lodge. In consequence of this desire and the good of the craft, they pray for a charter or warrant, to empower them to assemble as a lodge, to discharge the duties of Masonry in the several degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the ancient forms of the fraternity and the laws and regulations of the Grand Lodge, that they have nominated and do recommend Beriah Graham to be the first master; Alex T. Douglass, to be the frist senior warden and John Orrick to be the first junior warden of said lodge; that if the prayer of the petitioners should be granted, they promise a strict conformity to all the constitutional laws, rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge.

Joshua Grimes, Benjamin Emmons, John Orrick, Alex T. Douglass, B. Graham, James C. Lackland, James McClure, Philip A. Stockslager, John Lilly, Jr.

This paper bears no date, but it is indorsed "Petition for Lodge at St. Charles, 1837." A dispensation was granted May 3, 1837, but it is not known when the lodge was organized. It was, however, in session as early as June 7. The lodge was called St. Charles Lodge No. 23, and the jewels and furniture of Hiram Lodge which had been surrendered to the Grand Lodge were donated to the new lodge, which now bore the name "St. Charles Hiram Lodge No. 23."4 In October, 1838, the lodge had 23 members and one entered apprentice.

In October, 1841, there were 20 members; in October, 1842, there were 25 members, and in October, 1844, there were 22 members.

The lodge ceased to work after 1844, and its charter returned to the Grand Lodge. No other lodge of Masons was organized in the town until 1849, when Hiram Lodge No. 118, was formed, with the following members: E. D. Bevitt, P.M.; T. W. Cunningham, P.M.; John Orrick, P.M.; W. J. McElhiney, M.M.; Edward P. Gut, M.M.; J. C. Lackland, M.M.; Joel D. Jones, M.M.; J. W. Robinson, M.M.; Robert Spencer, M.M.; Chas. F. Fant, M.M. These were all members of Hiram Lodge No. 23, except Robinson.

The dispensation was granted June 29, 1849, and the first regular communications was held July 2, 1849. The initiatory steps for erecting a Masonic hall were taken in 1849, and the following board of trustees were elected: A. C. Orrick, J. W. Redmon, W. J. McElhiney, J. W. Robinson, E. D. Bevitt, T. W. Cunningham and J. G. Tannor. The building was erected on a lot on the east side of Main street, between Jefferson and Madison. The deed of this lot was executed by Gallaher & Orrick, May 8, 1850. The property was divided into 150 shares, and at least 45 of these were taken by parties who were not Masons. The corner stone of the hall was laid October 10, 1849. From July 2, 1849, to April 22, 1850, there were 69 degrees conferred.

In May, 1851, the lodge had 35 members. The lodge celebrated the 24th of June, 1856, and also the 27th of December, 1858.

The last meeting of Hiram Lodge No. 118 occurred July 17, 1861, and the charter was surrendered in May, 1862. During the existence of this lodge -- a period of 12 years -- 127 petitions had been presented; 22 were for admission by demit from other lodges, and 105 for initiation. Of these 105 petitions, 101 were accepted.

Mr. Alexander, in speaking of the interval of time that had elapsed between 1861 and the date of the organization of the present lodge, says: --

Nearly four years had borne their records of war and bloodshed since the light of Masonry in St. Charles and had burned to its last expiring flicker. The war was closing, and peace was again asserting her supremacy, when the minds of Masonic brethren began once more to turn instinctively, as it were, to the subject of setting up the altar of Masonry and lighting its fires once more in St. Charles.

I remember well that little meeting in the back room, where the matter was quietly talked over and conclusion reached. I remember also the visit to St. Louis made by the three who had been named to fill temporarily the three principal offices, when the Grand Secretary was interviewed on the subject, and the visit that this same three made to Bridgeton Lodge for the purpose of passing muster, according to Masonic usage, and obtaining their consent for our application for Masonic authorization.

The preliminary steps having been taken, Mr. Alexander continues by giving the record, which is as follows: --

At an assembly of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, convened in the city of St. Charles, in the county of St. Charles, in the State of Missouri, on Saturday, March 25, 1865, for the purpose of organizing a lodge of that fraternity, to be known as Palestine Lodge, were present: Joseph H. Garrett, P.M., Bridgeton Lodge No. 80, Mo., Master; David V. Baber, M.M., Bridgeton, Lodge No. 80, Mo., S.W.; S. Haynes Martin, M.M., Bridgeton, Lodge No. 80, Mo., J.W.; Joseph H. Alexander, M.M.; William W. Edwards, M.M.; Edmund Taylor, M.M.; Robert A. Harris, M.M.; John Byngton, M.M.; John S. McDowell, M.M.; James Keaton, M.M.; Samuel Gravely, M.M.; William D. Orrick, M.M.; Robert McClarin, M.M.; M. R. Goehagan, M.M., of Hiram, Lodge No. 118, charter surrendered; James G. Owens, M.M.; Isaac J. Moore, M.M.

Lodge opened in the Master's degree in due form.

The W.M. then read his commission from the M.W. John F. Houston, Grand Master of Masons in the State of Missouri, authorizing him to organize this lodge; and also read the letter of dispensation of the M.W. Grand Master aforesaid, constituting the brethren Joseph H. Alexander, William W. Edwards, Edmond Taylor, James S. Burlingame, James Keeton, John S. McDowell, Robert A. Harris, James G. Owen, Richard H. Overall, Isaac J. Moore, John H. Newby, Samuel Gravely and John Byngton into a regular lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, to be opened in the city of St. Charles by the name of Palestine Lodge, appointing Brother Joseph H. Alexander Master, Brother William H. Edwards S.W., and Brother Edmund J.W. for opening the said lodge, and governing the same in the several degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason and making the requirements usual in such cases.

Our space precludes us from following this interesting history of Freemasonry in St. Charles any further.

The present officers of Palestine Lodge No. 241 are: Joseph H. Alexander, W.M.; Robert Hickman, S.W.; Albert Huber, J.W.; T. L. Rives, Treas.; John K. McDearmon, Sec.; H. G. Bode, S.D.; Fred. Burckhardt, J.D.; Christopher Bode, tyler.