Anna Masonic Lodge celebrated 150 years; fraternal organization chartered in 1867

One of the landmark events which occurred in Union County during 2017 happened in the fall.

The Anna Masonic Lodge No. 520 celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The lodge was founded on Oct. 16, 1867, with an official charter from the Grand Lodge of Illinois after operating as Ariel Lodge since 1866.

Many of the men who were Masons served in the community in some capacity in city, county and state offices.

Masons have served the City of Anna in various capacities over the years, including as mayors, aldermen, council members and employees.

The Anna lodge also has welcomed business owners, mechanics, farmers, laborers, those serving in the armed forces, first responders and many others as members. 

The celebration in the fall cemented the Anna Masonic Lodge as the oldest fraternal organization in the City of Anna.

At the time of the celebration, the lodge had 106 members.

Officers included Frankie Williams, Worshipful Master; Chad Butler, Senior Warden; Cody Poole, Junior Warden.

Larry Eddleman, Secretary; Allen Mays, Treasurer; Billy J. Colson, Senior Deacon; Ron Almaroad, Junior Deacon.

Ken Trimble, Senior Steward; Robert Fricks, Junior Steward; Tracy Harris, Chaplain; Jay Rossberg, Tyler; and Richard Shipley, Marshal.

The lodge’s Worshipful Master, Frankie Williams, shared that “the process of becoming a Mason is easy, just ask; the ASK12B1 slogan is correct. If Masonry interests you and you would like to be a member, just ask a member. 

“If you are interested in becoming a member or have questions, email annamasoniclodge520@gmail.com.”

The Anna lodge’s regular stated meetings are scheduled at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.

Meetings are at the Anna Masonic Lodge, which is located across from the swimming pool, where Church Street becomes Herman Wright Drive at the entrance to the Anna City Park.

History of Anna Lodge from “100 Years of Progress”

The history of Anna Masonic Lodge No. 520 was highlighted in the book titled “100 Years of Progress.”

The book was published at the time of the City of Anna’s centennial celebration in 1954.

A history of the Anna Masonic Lodge written by E.E. Conyer appeared in “100 Years of Progress.”

Some highlights from Conyer’s history follow:

On the evening of October 10, 1866, when our City of Anna was just a youngster of 12 years, twenty-two of its citizens held a meeting under a dispensation from the Masonic Grand Lodge of Illinois to organize Ariel Lodge A.F. and A. Masons.

Unfortunately, they left no record of the location of the meeting, however, prior to their death several of the older members told that it was somewhere on Railroad Street, now Davie Street.

Our records are also vague regarding those twenty-two men, telling little more than their names, but from other authoritative sources we have learned enough about them to know that they were men of prominence in our little town and that the group was truly a cross section of its citizenry at that time.

Here are the names of those men and their occupations as far as we could determine.

Dr. M.V.B. Harwood, Druggist; W.H. Willard, Dry Goods Merchant; J.P. Bohannon, General Store Owner; Nathan Dresser, later became Post Master.

Cyrus Shick, Quarry and Lime Kiln operator; E.H. Finch, Quarry and Lime Kiln operator; Cornwall Kirkpatrick, owner of the old pottery and, incidentally, elected the first Mayor of Anna, when the City changed its form of Government in 1872.

Jas. I Toler, Business Man; John Harwood, Business Man; P.H. Kroh, Minister; J. Frank Ashley, Surveyor; E. Day, Farmer; A.W. Robinson, Carpenter.

E.A. Freeman, Town Clerk; M.M. Inman, Peace Officer; C.M. Willard, Jr., Banker; I.A. McKinney, J.D. Smith, F.E. Scarsdale, F.M. Davidson, Jas. I. Kiger and James Roberts.

At this meeting Dr. Harwood, having been appointed Worshipful Master, appointed and installed the other officers, and thus began the Anna Masonic Lodge, now the oldest Fraternal organization, originating and still functioning in Anna. 

An organization whose first requirement is a belief in God; whose purpose is not to take the place of any man’s church, but to teach the moral and social virtues, which should lead men to church.

On the evening of October 16, 1867, Mr. Joseph H. Samson of Jonesboro Lodge No. 111 met with the Masonic brethren of Anna and, acting for the Grand Master of Illinois, presented to them a Charter. He then installed Mr. Nathan Dresser as Worshipful Master. 

The other officers were then installed, thereby completing the organization of Anna Lodge No. 520, A.F. and A. Masons, as a regular Lodge of Masons.

During the years (the) Anna Lodge moved its meeting place several times. 

It is difficult to determine from the records the exact location of each.

However, it continued in its first location until April 1, 1872, when it moved to the C.H. Williford Hall, a two-story brick building, still standing on East Davie Street.

(In 1878, the lodge moved to Peeler Hall. July 10, 1889, the lodge moved to the Knights of Pythias Hall. In 1891, it moved to the old Dry House on West Davie Street. The lodge moved to 326 S. Main St.)

The names of many prominent and influential men have been on the lodge’s membership roll. Civic minded men, many serving as city oficials, all interested in the community’s welfare.

Many have served our nation as well, some giving their lives; as did Lt. Ray Oliver Penrod, who in World War II, bravely went down with his ship when it was sunk in the Pacific by Japanese bombers; and Col. Townsend F. Dodd, who was in the Air Corps in Europe in World War I and died in the service when his plane crashed in one of our Eastern States.

Many things have changed since that evening of October 10, 1866.

The Lodge no longer convenes according to a certain phase of the moon, but according to the calendar; the members no longer trudge down muddy streets or ride horseback to a meeting, but come in streamlined autos; the meetings no longer are conducted in the dim light of kerosene lamps, but in the brightness of modern electric fixtures; but its principles and purpose have never changed. 

It continues to insist on a belief in God, to promote harmony among men and encourage righteous living.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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