A History of Quincy Lodge #230 F. & A. M.

(Taken from the 150 year rededication ceremony held in May, 2008)
Today's 150 year Rededication Ceremony of Quincy Lodge #230 of Free and Accepted Masons, will serve as a foundation for the bright future and, indeed, stir many memories of bygone days, close friendships, and lost Brethren. With a century and a half, the narratives and memories go on virtually forever. Now, let us travel back to days gone by, to the time when the seeds of Quincy Lodge were first planted.

Picture, if you will, a railroad boxcar shanty alongside the tracks, running through the small rural town of Quincy, Indiana (Elwood's former name). According to the late Brother Austin Brumbaugh, this boxcar was actually the unlikely setting where a handful of Master Masons, from various Lodges, informally meet and first discussed the possibility of forming a new Lodge.

Quincy Lodge officially started on June 12, 1857. This was the date of the first meeting of Quincy Lodge U.D., after the Grand Lodge of the State of Indiana granted dispensation on May 25, 1857. Meetings were held on the Tuesday on or before the full moon, and the entire membership consisted of A. J. Griffith, Worshipful Master; James M. Dehority, Senior Warden; G. W. Douglas, Junior Warden; John T. Hunter, Secretary; Robert R. Douglas, Treasurer; Levi B. Collins, Senior Deacon; James N. Decker, Junior Deacon; and M. Black, Tyler. The new Lodge received its first two petitions that year; the candidates were Joseph Anderson and Milton Kidwell. The seeds were firmly sowed.

A little more than a year later, on June 28, 1858, a Special Deputy of the Grand Master, Illustrious Brother C. P. Peno opened the stated meeting and presented the Lodge with its charter. The Lodge hall was located on the second floor of a store building, owned by Brother James M. DeHority. By December 31, 1859, the Lodge membership had increased to thirty-six Master Masons in good standing.

The next three decades were particularly arduous for the Lodge. The Civil War began, and many of the brethren were called to duty; Six brothers made the ultimate sacrifice. The minutes for 1879 show no meetings at all - only blank pages. Furthermore, in December 1881, half of the membership were suspended for non-payment of dues. This toilsome era continued until 1884, when five Master Masons were raised.

The years that followed were a time of prosperity for the Lodge, as Elwood also celebrated its prosperity with the natural gas boom in 1887 and the tin mill in 1892. Lodge membership increased from thirty-eight members in 1885 to 102 members in 1895. In 1900, Brother James J. Davis approached the altar of Masonry; He would go on to serve in the United States Senate and the Cabinet of three different United States Presidents.

Prosperity flourished, even after the exhaustion of the gas wells in 1903. In 1907, under the determination of Brother S. H. Digel P.M., the Lodge bought a new Temple building, which stood as the icon of Freemasonry in Elwood until the recent turn of the millennium. The building was purchased for $20,000, and another $5,000 was used for remodeling. The Lodge room was beautiful and well known throughout central Indiana.

The night of April 1, 1913, saw a young man, just turned twenty-one, standing before the Lodge alter, where two of his older brothers had stood before him, and a younger brother who was to stand there several years later. This young man standing there was well known to the Master, O.D. Hinshaw, and all the brethren present. However, little did they realize the impact this man was to have on the community of Elwood, the nation, and the world. The man was Wendell Lewis Willkie.

The next few decades brought both good and bad times for both the Country and the Lodge. The years surrounding World War I and World War II saw many new faces enter the Fraternity. However, 86 members were called to service during WWI, and WWII sent 45 members to fight for the Nation, with two brethren, Ernie Gardner and Jimmie Gordon not returning. Brother Dale Noble, Worshipful Master in 1944, left for service right after his installation. During the Vietnam War Era in 1969, a helicopter gunship piloted by Brother Malcolm Buck Leopke went down over North Korea; he spent a year as a POW. Truly, Quincy Lodge must have great pride for the many sacrifices the members have made for our Nation.

The next three decades were not a time of prosperity and growth for both Quincy Lodge, nor the community of Elwood. Although the Lodge was able to recruit many new members, a slow erosion of the local economy and a decrease in the general population led to a subsequent decrease in Lodge membership. During this time, the Lodge lost its DeMolay Chapter, York Rite bodies, and Eastern Star Chapter.

In 1999, the Lodge made the tough decision to move its home from the beautiful building in downtown Elwood, to its current location on North Anderson Street. Many of the Brethren, along with many Ladies of OES, spent countless hours to ensure that the new building would be an appropriate new home for the Lodge. By maintaining a majority of the original building's furnishings and similar architectural embellishments, the new Temple was designed and built to best reproduce the splendor of the old. During its relatively short life, this new Temple has already provided the backdrop for many great events, degrees, and functions.

Freemasonry can be described and detailed in many ways, but it is the members, traditions, and memories that make the Lodge what it is today. Elwood has been fortunate to have such a strong Masonic tradition. From the charter date of 1858, the Lodge has been a prominent part of life in Elwood for 150 years. The Lodge has provided a place for people of all ages to come together and share in a common goal, enjoy good fellowship, and enrich this community with many charitable works. May the Grand Architect of the Universe bless us and keep this Lodge in the years to come. So Mote It Be.

Updated: July 2008