Volume 4 , Number 7, Spring 1972
(As Taken From the Minutes of the Lodge, With Sometimes Explanatory words by the Copyist.)
CLETYS R. ACKERMAN, SECRETARY 1972
From page 1 of the minute book of Forsyth Lodge No. 4S3, A.F. and A.M, July 8, 1872; Hall of Forsyth Lodge, Under Dispensation Forsyth, Taney County, Missouri, A.L. July 8, 1872.
In accordance with a notice from: R. W. Brother, J. L. Robberson, D.D.G.M. of Friend Lodge No. 352, Ozark, Christian County, Missouri, dated June 28th, 1872; The following Master Masons met at their hall at Forsyth, Taney County, Missouri, at half past seven oclock P.M. July 8, 1872, Brothers, E. Claflin, S.W. Hughs, A.L. Osborn, J.M. Haworth, S.L. Grooms, William McAuley, Sampson Barker, and William E. Hamar.
The above being the identical persons that signed a petition to the M.W. Grand Lodge of A.F. and A.M. Masons of Missouri, June 1872, sending their dimits with their petition for a dispension from the Grand Lodge to meet and work in Forsyth. Brother D.M. Payne of Friend Lodge No. 352 of A.F. and A.M., Ozark, Christian County, Missouri, came forward and called the above named persons, they answering to their names and being leagally vouched for as Master Masons. E. Claflin was placed in the East as W.M., S.L. Grooms as S.W., S.W. Hughs as J.W., William McAuley as Treasurer, A.L. Osborn as Secretary, Sampson Barker as S.D., J.M. Haworth as J.D., and William E. Hamar as Tyler. Brother D.M. Payne then read an order from W.B. J.L; Robberson D.D.G.M. at Ozark, authorising and directing him to set to work Forsyth Lodge, U.D., which he did by opening a Lodge of Master Masons in due and ancient form, then presented the following dispensation and read it aloud to all the Lodge, which was in words as follows:
Grand Lodge of Missouri.
The Most Worshipful, The Grand Lodge of Missouri:
To all and every our worshipful and loving brethern.
Know ye, that at the petition of our worshipful and well beloved Bretheren, E. Claflin, Sylvanus Grooms, S.W. Hughs, J.M. Haworth, William McAuley, Sampson Barker, William E. Hamar, A.L. Osborn, and several other bretheren residing at and near Forsyth, Missouri of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, and for certain other reasons moving our Most Worshipful Grand Lodge do hereby constitute the said brethern into a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, to be opened in Forsyth by the name of Forsyth Lodge, at their request and of the great trust and confidence in every one of the said brethern, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge doth appoint our worshipful bretheren, E. Claflin, Master; Bro. S.L. Grooms, S.W.; Bro. S.W. Hughs J.W.; for opening said Lodge and governing the same in the several degrees of, Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.
It is required of you, our friend and brother, the Worshipful Master, to take special care that all and every of the said brethern of your Lodge, as well as those admitted into your body by your Lodge, be regularly made Masons, and that they do observe, perform and keep all the rules and orders contained in our book of constitutions and that the Landmarks be strictly attended to, and further, that you cause to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, an account of your proceedings, with a list of those initiated, passed, and raised, or as otherwise managed, and transmit a copy of the same with this letter of dispensation to our Most Worshipful Grand Lodge at our annual communication, for it expires by limitation on the first day of the session. Issued by order of M.W. Thomas E. Garrett, Grand Master of Masons. Given at St. Louis, under my hand and seal of the M.W. Grand Lodge, by order, this 18th day of June, A.L. 5872, A.D. 1872.
Attest: George Frank Gouley, Grand Secretary.
Thus began Forsyth Lodge No. 453, A.F. and A.M. at Forsyth, Missouri, on a warm if not hot evening in July 1872. The Lodge met on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 7:00 P.M. The first meeting was on July 13th, 1872. The first person admitted to membership was a Master Mason. M.P. McDaniels who had dimitted from Avilla
Lodge No. 278, Jasper County, Missouri. The first petition for the degrees was from Levi Boswell. He thus became the first Mason to be raised in the first Masonic Lodge organized in Taney County, Missouri.
The initiation fees were set at $30.00, to be paid in the form of $10.00 for each degree.
On Jan. 13th, 1873 Forsyth Lodge No. 453, A.F. & A.M. was presented with its charter by W.B. J.L. Robberson, D.D.G.M., and the following officers were elected and installed; E. Claflin as W.M.; Sampson Barker as S.W.; SW. Hughs as J.W.; Jordan M. Haworth as Treas.; T. Howard as Sec.; J.A. Bryan as S.D.; and M.P. McDaniel as J.D.
The minutes are vague as to where the meetings were held, but one mention was made of the County court house and the Jury room. Committees were appointed to confer with the Odd Fellows and Patrons of Husbandry about erecting a joint Lodge hall. A joint stock hall association was formed and a Lodge hall built, but the members of Forsyth Masonic Lodge voted not to join, instead they rented the hall at $2.00 a meeting.
In 1879 an effort was made to appoint a committee to investigate building a Lodge hall. After several meetings the project was abandoned.
In the early days the Lodge held festivals celebrating Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist days. Saint John the Baptist day fell on or near the first day of Summer and Saint John the Evangelist on or near the first day of Winter. The members and their families met for a picnic or banquet, depending on the weather, and a party at the Lodge hall. This practice has been discontinued.
When first really considering a new Lodge hall, the Forsyth Masons inquired as to adding a second story to a building that L.J. Jennings contemplated building. Old timers in Masonry will tell one, that in the early days, all across Missouri the Masons and other Lodges often occupied the second story of some other building. Sometimes in the country, the second story of a community church. Likely this was for two reasons, it was cheaper; second, they needs not close windows on hot Summer evenings.
In December 1884 a committee was appointed to pick out a building site and make an assignment to build a Lodge hall. A plot was purchased. A blacksmith shop on the property had to be removed at a cost of $26.50. A contract was let for the foundation at a cost of $70.00. The Master of the Lodge, Elverton Claflin, journeyed to Carthage, Missouri to purchase the corner stone. The first Lodge hall of the Forsyth Masonic Lodge, a two story building, stood at the North East corner of Benton and Lincoln streets in Forsyth. Now spoken of as Old Forsyth, for when the Bull Shoals Lake was formed, Forsyth was moved to another site. The Lodge hall, a stucco building, measured 23 by 48 feet. The total cost was $1072.55. As this is an estimated cost, not the cash outlay, for much of the work was likely done by the members. The lower floor was rented to various merchants, Parrish & Boswell, and Robert C. Ford being tennants at one time or another. Parrish & Boswell built a warehouse on the North side and attached to the Lodge hall. One tennant had to be evicted for nonpayment of rent and the sheriff had to be called in to help with the job. The lower floor was rented at $60.00 per annum. In 1938 the hall was stuccoed. In May 1919 the hall was wired for electricity and electric lights were installed at a cost of $26.35. The monthly light bill was $1.25.
The Lodge gave to Taney County its first publicity in foreign countries. In October of 1887 the Lodge voted to print and send abroad circulars, "For benefit of the craft in other lands containing a description of Taney County". One thousand were printed at a cost of $15.00.
In July 1875 a committee was appointed to take steps to form a Chapter of Eastern Star. The committee was not successful at this time in this project.
During the years members of Forsyth Lodge dimitted to assist in forming a Lodge in their area. Bad roads or no roads and bad weather made long rides to Forsyth to attend Lodge meetings a hardship difficult to endure.
In 1889 a group in the community now known as Protem, but at that time known as Spring Hill, applied for and received dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Missouri to form a Lodge. The officers appointed under the dispensation were: W.T. Lainkins W.M.; S.W. Moore S.W.; William T. Adams J.W.; George C. Bott Treas.; Christopher C. Owen, Sect.; Cyrus A. James S.D.; Nelson M. Southworth J.D.; Simon P. Dotson 5.5.; George P. Owen J.S.; William H. Awbrey Chaplin; and William H. Schaffer Tyler. Other Masons present at the organization meeting included: Wm. M. Ford, and Alfred Toinhill from Forsyth Lodge No. 453; Abraham L. Parrish and Samuel W. Boswell holding Lodge dimits; Granville L. Mall and Robert W. Sullivan. This new Lodge was named Claflin Lodge, received the number 229 and was dedicated on December of 1889.
In 1900 nine or more members dimited to assist in forming a Lodge at Kirbyville, Missouri. Other members assisted in organizing a lodge at Rome Missouri in Douglas County.
From time to time loans were made to various members. These loans ranged in value from ten dollars to one hundred fifty dollars, each bearing six percent interest. With very few exceptions these loans were always repaid. When real difficult times came in the late 1880s the Lodge helped a member in financial straights by taking a mule as payment on a $50.00 note. In 1901 the finance committee recommended that the Lodge discontinue the loaning of their money, and the Lodge adopted the resolution.
The Lodge provided sick care for a member and members widows, including nursing care when needed. At the passing of a member the Lodge took care of all funeral arrangements, furnishing the casket, digging the grave, the final internment and the head stone. The coffin and box were made in the neighborhood at a nominal cost. In 1887 a fee for making the coffin and box was $6.25, with $4.25 for other expenses. In May 1876 a Mr. Bellow received $8.00 for making a coffin with box. Other bills for that funeral were, $11.15 for goods furnished be Weaver and Reuter and $9.25 for goods furnished by L. Jennings & Co. Old timers were excused from paying dues, their dues being remitted each year.
When the School of the Ozarks was started at Forsyth in 1906 the Lodge voted to provide the cornerstone and dedicate it. W.M. Robert C. Ford traveled to Carthage, Missouri to purchase the stone. It was laid on October 17, 1906 with appropriate ceremonies. When fire destroyed the School of the Ozarks building at Forsyth and the school was moved to Branson, the corner stone was planted in a step of the Masonic Hall at Forsyth. On April 25, 1951 a motion was made that the Lodge return the cornerstone to the School of the Ozarks. A member of the faculty of the School of the Ozarks being present, Brother Wright, assured the members of the Lodge that the School would treasure the stone highly. It now stands on a pedestal in the Ralph Foster museum of The School.
On March 4th, 1939 Claflin Lodge No. 229 at Protem, Missouri, was consolidated with Forsyth Lodge No. 453, and all property and money was transfered to Forsyth Lodge. There was some difficulty evicting a tennant from the property and the sheriff had to be called in to do the job. The building was sold for $100.00 and the plot deeded to the citizens of Protem. Members from Claflin Lodge No. 229 who affiliated with Forsyth
Lodge No. 453 were: William E. Freeland, Henry R. Awbrey, Jesse Nance, Hobart F. Owen, General A. Johnson, W L. Johnson, W. H. Simmons, Thomas Simmons, Otto R. Wolf, Clifford Wood, Henry Ragsdale, Callie A. Brown, Nathan Blakey, A.B. Clemons, John T. Stinson, Roll Kissee, Charles L. Parks, and Henry S. Ragsdale.
When Bull Shoals dam was built the town of Forsyth was moved from the river bank to its present location. The Corps of Engineers appraised the Lodge property at $3750.00 less a salvage of $200.00. It was then decided to build a new Lodge Hall and a plot of ground in new Forsyth was donated by Rex Allaman. After investigating the cost of a new hall it was decided to move the old building onto the site. The plot donated by Rex Allaman was found to be insufficent and it was sold and a new plot purchased. The old Lodge hall was moved onto the new site and the cornerstone was laid July 6, 1951, Past Grand Master M.W.B. Morris E. Ewing officiating at the laying of the cornerstone.
At that time Mrs. Paul Fogel desired to give a plot of ground in the new town of Forsyth to the Lodge for a new hall with provisions that it be built within five years. Due to the lack of funds the Lodge delayed and the property reverted back to the Fogel estate.
In June 1961, Joseph L. Matthews suggested that a building fund be started and a building committee was appointed. On July 26, 1961 a building fund was started with $500.00 from the general fund. Additional money was added periodically and on May 1963 the fund had grown to $1288.00. On May 26, 1965 the members of the Lodge met and voted to build a new Lodge Hall. W.M. John B. (Red) Jones appointed a committee who suggested that the Lodge trade the Lodge building and lot to H.R. Owen for lot 1, 2, and 3 in block 105 which is located West of the intersection of Main and Saint Jude streets in Forsyth. This arrangement was approved by the Lodge February 8, 1966 a contract was made to transfer the properties. The building was started in early 1966 and progressed until the building fund was depleted. Members dues were raised in order to borrow from the bank to finish the building. The cornerstone was laid and the new Lodge Hall was dedicated on July 17, 1967 by M.W. Russell E. Murray, Grand Master of
Masons of Missouri and his staff. The first regular meeting in the new Lodge hall was held on July 26, 1967. The building stands on a hillside, making it one story on the street side and two stories at the rear. It is constructed of concrete blocks and measures forty feet by fifty feet six inches. The minutes of Forsyth Lodge which comes nearest to July 8, 1972 will tell of the achievements of the 100th year. Among these will be: adopting the policy of awarding 25 year pins to those members with 25 years of membership, and the paying off of the last few hundred dollars of the mortgage used to build the new Lodge hall, leaving the Lodge free of debt.
On May 12, 1971, W.M. Walter J. Pinder appointed a committee to make preliminary plans for the coming centennial year; Glen Moore, John C. Arnold, Clete Ackerman and Gayles Housman. A permanent centennial committee was appointed by W. B. Gayles Housman, Master for 1972.
Old Town of Forsyth. (Old Lodge Circled in Photo)
|Old Lodge Hall, Moved up from Old Forsyth to New Forsyth||New Lodge Hall, built 1966-67|
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