Paragould Lodge #368 - History


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 .

Tina Easley

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

J.M Douglas

Riley Diggs


C.H. Barnhill

E.S. Bray

J.P. Lane

James McDaniel

Josiah Elliott

John J. Lambert

Joseph Wilcockson

J.A. Lane

Winfield Bray

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  

E.U. Baker 1879
John Clark 1880
John Osteen 1881
S.M. Bray 1884 
G.W. McCulley 1885 
G.L. Gentry 1885
Calvin Wall 1887,1888, 1889 
John Osteen 1890
G.L. Gentry   1891,1892
L.C. Thompson 1893 
John Osteen   1894 
M.L. Greene 1895  
L. McHaney 1896
E.S. Bray     1897
John Osteen 1899
M.F. Collier 1900
J.M. Lowe 1901
WIP Robinson 1902
Saul Bertig 1903
W.C. Hasty 1904, 1905
John R. Thompson 1906
W.C. Hasty   1907, 1908
J.H. McPherson 1909, 1910
W.C. Thompson   1911
J.A. Edwards 1912
J.H. McPherson 1913
T.H. Lloyd 1914
  R.C. Grizzard   1915
C.M. Jones 1916
R.C. Grizzard 1917,18,19, 20
Allen Stewart 1921
Otho Newsom 1922
A.M. Reedy 1923
C.D. Vaughn 1924
R.C. Grizzard 1925
W.C. Thompson 1926
R.E. Spillman 1927
Elmer Harris 1928
R.C. Grizzard 1929, 30, 31
Charlie Jackson 1932
John Purcell JR. 1933
Harvey Farrel 1934
Frank Leroy   1935
C.J. McCue 1936
Elmer Harris 1937 
N.P. Cartwright 1938, 39
John Purcell JR. 1940, 41
N.P. Cartwright 1942
Noel Boone 1943
J.L. Cookson   1944
M.E. Clifford 1945
Jean R. Garner 1946
Dale E. Carter   1947
James A. Strait 1948
H.L. Henson   1949
R.W. Kelley 1950
Hays Triplett 1951
Clyde Wood 1952
Foster Babcock 1953
Jimmy Thomas 1954
Johnie Mikel 1955
R.B. Newberry 1956
Wm. D. Ward 1957
J.H. Grooms SR. 1958
Marshall E. Jarrett 1959
Claude Younger 1960
James E. Garner 1961
James Carl Wood 1962
Wayne Hinkle 1963
Bennett Satterwhite 1964
Floyd Cameron 1965
Floyd E. Spence 1966
Henry D. Howard 1967
Ransom Walker 1968
Vesper Akin 1969
John J. McCullom 1970
Major R. McDaniel 1971
O.D. McFall 1972
Bill Frazier 1973
O.D. Mcfall 1974
Claude Younger 1975
Ransom Walker 1976
Carl Simpson 1977
Marvin Exum 1978
Majors Arnold 1979
Ira Perdue 1980
Cecil Forehand 1981
Virgil S. Jones 1982
James M. Copeland 1983
Kenneth Bean 1984
J.T. Kingston 1985
Bob Elliott 1986
Larry Fletcher 1987
Joe Hurst 1988
Jerry Black 1989
Jesse C. Howard SR 1990
J.L. Tyner 1991
Burt F. Lee 1992
Tom Rorex 1993
Jesse J. Harris 1994
Louie Holland 1995
Ernest P.Clark 1996
John R. Chappell 1997
Leslie O. Payne 1998
Hughie E, Lott 1999
Jesse J. Harris 2000
Burt A. Lee 2001
Judd D, Schug 2002
Leslie Payne 2003
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.