Paragould Lodge #368 - History
PARAGOULD MASONIC ORDER
I have heard about the Freemasons my whole life had read about their meetings and lodge's in all the old newspapers while doing research . Seen their "Emblem" on markers at the cemeteries . But never really could find out much more . So I went on line and searched and emailed Mr. Payne . Asking if he could tell me some history on the Mason Paragould Lodge and any other information he might like to share. Below is some very interesting history Mr. Payne sent .
Information Contributed by : Les Payne
Thank You !
Although I have not personally researched the matter, Brother Ransom Walker informed me that he personally saw information on the first lodge in Paragould. It was chartered as New Bethel Lodge #368, in 1879, George Thornburgh was the Grand Master of the Freemasons in Arkansas. Brother Ransom tells me that the first lodge was located above the Shiloh Methodist Church west of town.
On November 25, 1884. it moved into the city limits and changed the name to Paragould Lodge #368. The charter members when Paragould received its dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, located in Little Rock, to do work were as follows:
December 28, 1879
New Bethel Lodge #368
Principal Officers were:
Worshipful Master: E.M. Baker
Senior Warden: Riley Diggs
Junior Warden: E.S. Bray
John J. Lambert
When the Bethel Lodge moved within the city limits, it became known as Paragould Lodge #368. The Worshipful Master of the lodge at the time of the change was S.M. Bray. The following list of men have been members and served as "masters" of the lodge. For your information, in the early years of masonry, particularly during the years when horseback was the mode of transportation, masons were required to go to the lodge nearest them. The distance was referred to "as the length of a masons cabletow," which is the equivalent of three miles.
Past Masters of Paragould Lodge #368
|Calvin Wall||1887,1888, 1889|
|W.C. Hasty||1904, 1905|
|John R. Thompson||1906|
|W.C. Hasty||1907, 1908|
|J.H. McPherson||1909, 1910|
|R.C. Grizzard||1917,18,19, 20|
|R.C. Grizzard||1929, 30, 31|
|John Purcell JR.||1933|
|N.P. Cartwright||1938, 39|
|John Purcell JR.||1940, 41|
|Jean R. Garner||1946|
|Dale E. Carter||1947|
|James A. Strait||1948|
|Wm. D. Ward||1957|
|J.H. Grooms SR.||1958|
|Marshall E. Jarrett||1959|
|James E. Garner||1961|
|James Carl Wood||1962|
|Floyd E. Spence||1966|
|Henry D. Howard||1967|
|John J. McCullom||1970|
|Major R. McDaniel||1971|
|Virgil S. Jones||1982|
|James M. Copeland||1983|
|Jesse C. Howard SR||1990|
|Burt F. Lee||1992|
|Jesse J. Harris||1994|
|John R. Chappell||1997|
|Leslie O. Payne||1998|
|Hughie E, Lott||1999|
|Jesse J. Harris||2000|
|Burt A. Lee||2001|
|Judd D, Schug||2002|
|Judd D. Schug||2004|
|Burt F. Lee||2005|
The membership has included doctors, lawyers, pharmacist, farmers, railroad workers, store owners, bankers, pastors, as you can see men from all walks of life have been freemasons.
Years ago, just about every locality had a lodge hall: Greenway, Leonard, Rector, Gainseville, Brookland, Peach Orchard, Boydsville - just to name several. Unless I am mistaking, Eastern Star Lodge is now the oldest in our area. Prior to that was Boydsville #75. Lodges were numbered according to time they received approval from Grand Lodge at little Rock to begin work - dispensation. Harvey Lodge #292 stayed in until the mid late 80's; they gave up their charter due to low turn out and building maintenance. Some of the members elected to go to Corning and others came to Paragould for afilliation. The last Master of Harvey Lodge was Floyd G. Bennett, a good man. He was one of the Harvey members that came to Paragould.
One reason you do not hear about things done by the freemasons - in truth - is a rule laid down long ago. The gray beards were of the belief that charity talked about is not charity - someone is looking for a pat on the back; you see? We have numerous spin off organizations from our fraternity: Demolay for sons and relatives of freemasons, Rainbow girls, Order of the Eastern Star, York Rite Masons, Scottish Rite, Shriners.
People everywhere seem to relate to the latter, but unlike us, they can publicize what they do - having highly publicized burn centers and childrens hospitals; their Shriner Circus brings in millions - they are freemasons.
In 1900, 1/4 of all males over 21 years in the US were freemasons. Sadly, we have reached an era in our history where the takers by far outnumber the givers - a very sad truth. Can you imagine the funds that we could generate from our own members to help in the community if the same percentage existed today? In the USA, we currently make up just about 1% of the population.
We are men from all
walks of life and religious denominations. We come together
confirming our belief in God and the immortality of the soul.
Afterall, you can't believe in one without the other. God
is the supreme parent of all and we sit as friends and brothers
promising to be the best that we can in our communities and
assisting others when possible - mason or not. Lots of our
members in the past have been pastors in local churches.
The Mason Emblem
Masonry is divided into two classes operative, guilded crafts, and speculative. The guilded craftsmen were stone masons of old. After the reformation, the great cathedrals were no longer being built. As you know we protestants will meet in an orchard. With the craft being largely unemployed they began to accept non members of the guilds into their ranks - gentlemen of the day, thus the beginning of speculative masonry.
Speculative masons take the tools of the operative mason and apply them to their daily lives. For example, the 24 inch gauge is an instrument used by operative masons to measure and lay out his work, it being divided into twenty four equal parts is emblematical of the 24 hours of the day, but we are taught to further divide it into 3 equal parts whereby 8 hours found for the service of God, 8 for our usual vocations, and 8 for refreshment and sleep. The trowel is an instrument that is used to spread the cement that unites a building into one common mass, but we are taught to use it to spread the cement of brotherly love. Since the working tools are utilized and all things have a divine order, geometry is the first and noblest of all science - so the letter G is synonymous with the Great designer of all things - God. The square and compasses which surround the letter G are also working tools. The square remind us to square our actions towards all men, and the compasses to circumscribe our hearts and keep our passions in due bounds with all mankind.
Many times you will see tombstones having two right hands joined, those are masonic tombstones as well. Masons from days gone by believed that the right hand was the seat of ones' fidelity. Obviously a long held tradition, as non masons when meeting others will shake each other by the right hand. There are many signs and phrases used on gravestones to identify that the person was a freemason in life. I hope that this information will be useful to you.
The plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly before God and man, the square to square our action, the level to meet others on the level, and the common gavel to divest our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life. Anyway just a society of men that come together with a desire to help others along the way and live the best that they can.
The letter G is God and surrounded by square and compases to two most important tools - treat others as we wish to be treated and to remain compasionate in love for God and our fellow man.