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Lodge History


To perpetuate unto all ages the history of Clinton Lodge No. 54 F. & A. M., the following data was compiled from the old records by a committee composed of the undersigned and read during the Centennial Ceremonies of Clinton Lodge, May 31, 1944. The records read as follows:

“A group of men had the desire to organize a Masonic Lodge in Frankfort and made application to the Grand Lodge of Indiana for a dispensation to do so. The dispensation was granted on December 23, 1843, strange, as it may seem by a brother by the name of Philip Mason, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Indiana at that time, empowering those interested in Masonry in Frankfort to proceed with the organization. After receiving the necessary authority, these men held their first meeting on December 30, 1843 at which time By-Laws and Rules of Order were adopted. Seventeen names appear as signers.

Officers chosen to serve at that meeting were as follows:
  • Jacob VanDyke, Worshipful Master
  • G. M. Huggins, Senior Warden
  • James G. Choate, Junior Warden
  • John Irwin, Senior Deacon
  • Eugene Griffing, Junior Deacon
  • Lucien D. Griggs, Secretary
  • John Irwin, Treasurer
Regular meetings were held during the interval between the issuance of the dispensation and the granting of the charter, which was under the date of May 31, 1844. In this charter it was specified that Jacob VanDyke was to serve as Worshipful Master, Lucien D. Griggs as Senior Warden, James G. Choate as Junior Warden ‘together with all such Brethren as now are, or may be at any time hereafter become members, to open and hold that true, regular and warranted Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons in the Town of Frankfort, State of Indiana and to be called Clinton Lodge Number Fifty-Four.’

The first candidate to receive this Master Mason Degree in Clinton Lodge No. 54 was George Taylor, January 28, 1844.

On June 10, 1873, a dispensation was granted to form another Lodge of Masons and on May 26, 1874 was chartered as Frankfort Lodge No. 479. The first Master was Mordecai Kigar who served four years. J. H. Paris served the next two years and John D. Wirt served the next year, which was the last year of existence for Lodge No. 479. Negotiations were started for the consolidation of the two Lodges, which was consummated on July 6, 1880 under the name and number of Clinton Lodge No. 54, F. & A. M. Taylor B. Frazier was the first Worshipful Master to serve after the consolidation.

According to some records supplied by the late Dr. S. B. Sims, and which are presumed to be authentic, the first meeting place was in the old Garber Block; later know as the Catterlin Block in a room on the north side of the public square over what is now the Kilmer Jewelry Store. The first officers to be elected by the new Lodge were as follows:
  • Lucien D. Griggs, Worshipful Master
  • Thomas W. Florer, Senior Warden
  • N. T. Catterlin, Junior Warden
  • Cyrus B. Pence, Secretary
  • Daniel Parker, Treasurer
  • Joseph W. Johnson, Senior Deacon
  • John A. Hogart, Junior Deacon
  • Robert M. Watt, Tyler
The records further disclose that in the summer of 1873, the Lodge built and handsomely furnished a large and well-arranged hall at a cost of over $4,000. The new hall was dedicated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Indiana, Lucien A. Foote, on June 24, 1874.

Our late Brother, Martin A. Morrison, supplied the information; the present K. of P. Hall was also a Masonic meeting place, the Square and Compass adorning the top of the building at the present time. While no official record is to be found, and from the dates given in the data supplied by the late S. B. Sims, coupled with the dates of the institution of Frankfort Lodge No. 479, this could have been the meeting place of the last named Lodge. However, we also learn that Clinton Lodge No. 54 met in the hall over what is now the Morris 5¢ and 10¢ Store on North Main Street on the west side of the square.

From this location, Clinton Lodge No. 54 moved to the northeast corner of Washington and Columbia Street and after a number of years in that location serious consideration was given to the proposed construction of a new Masonic Temple for Frankfort, the Lodge having outgrown and outmoded the building quarters it was then occupying. Through the untiring efforts of the late Brothers Dr. Oliver Gard, John C. Shanklin, Richard Newhouse and Abe McClamroch, the dream became reality, committees having been appointed to purchase the present site, plans made, contract let and in due time actual construction started. The building was to house not only the Blue Lodge, but Clinton Chapter No. 82, Frankfort Council No. 46, Frankfort Commandery No. 29 and Clinton Chapter No. 6, Order of the Eastern Star. John Paden, now deceased, was the general contractor. The corner stone was laid on July 25, 1912 with high officers of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Indiana participating and the building was completed in 1913 at an estimated cost of approximately $65,000. During the building of the Temple, the late Dr. Oliver Gard was Worshipful Master and the Trustees were Oliver Gard, J. C. Shanklin and Richard Newhouse.

The first candidate to be raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in the new Temple was J. Russell Kramer on July 1, 1912. Brother Kramer having received his Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft degrees in the old Lodge Hall just before the Lodge moved into the present Temple. The first candidates to receive all three degrees in the present Temple were Harry N. Hines and the late Dr. Hollis R. Royster, their Master Mason degrees being conferred upon them on the evening of August 8, 1913.

The first meeting for the transaction of business in the new Temple was help August 5, 1913.

According to the records up to 1944, the youngest candidate ever to be given the several degrees of the Blue Lodge was George Lockwood who received his Entered Apprentice degree at one minute past midnight on his twenty-first birthday.

So far as your committee has been able to ascertain, the only person to receive all three degrees the same day was Perley E. Pavey, on July 20, 1918.

Such, Brethren, is a brief resume of the history of the Masonic Lodge in Frankfort since its inception of over on hundred years ago. Starting with a membership of only seventeen tried and true Masons, Clinton Lodge No. 54 has grown steadily year-by-year. From the little one room Lodge room with none of the conveniences we enjoy today, we sometimes wonder if our Brethren appreciate the magnificent Temple we have today where we can “meet upon the level and part upon the square”. Lets all of us hold our banners high that others may see our good works and glorify our Father Who Art in Heaven.”

Fraternally submitted by your Committee:
Harry E. Pavey, Chairman
Max Fowler
Arthur G. Straesser
J. Leslie Rowe

May 31, 1944