Oakland City Lodge #467, F&AM, History


Oakland City Lodge #467, F&AM, has a long and full history. The Lodge was formed when the town of Oakland City was still in its infancy, the town having been founded in 1856. The charter for the Lodge was issued by the Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana, on May 27, 1873. Charter members were shown as follows: James W. Spain, Worshipful Master; Jonathan Marsh, Senior Warden; Lewis E. Hoffman, Junior Warden; others listed were Cornelius Christmas, W. J. McGowan, James M. Cockrum, Martin V. Lovett, Robert Duffield, Jerry Harrington and John Thompson. Grand Master of the State was Christian Fetta.

Stated meetings were held on the first and third Monday nights of every month and on December 27. The cost of obtaining the charter was $43. The initiation fee for new members was set at $20, and dues were $2 per year. As Oakland City Lodge was one of the "youngest" lodges in the area, several other area lodges had representatives on hand for the chartering event.

One of the first known meeting places was in Cockrum Hall, located at 251 N. Main Street. An 1881 map of the City, shows the Lodge occupying a structure on West Harrison Street, where the Methodist Church parsonage now sits. In 1887, after a major fire, the Lodge was meeting in the Cato Building (now the Western Auto store), located at 259 N. Main Street.

Early minutes show that the Lodge was invited to attend the cornerstone laying ceremonies of both the Vanderburgh County Court House in Evansville, and the Gibson County Court House at Princeton, in 1888.

In 1889, the minutes list the meeting place as the Bullivant Building, located as 217 N. Main Street. They also show that the Tyler received remuneration in the amount of $12 per year for firing the coal stove and fueling the kerosene lights.

Early membership lists show the lodge growing rapidly, going from 63 members in 1891, to 74 members in 1893. By 1897, electric lights were in use, and it is likely that around this time, the Lodge was meeting in a building located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Columbia and Main Streets, where the Citizens Bank building is now located. Likely, it was in this building where the local Royal Arch Chapter was chartered in October, 1901.

By 1903, the meeting location had moved to above the Creek and Heldt Hardware Store. This location was recently known as the Peal's Department Store building, which burned in a major downtown fire in 1966. It is currently a parking lot adjacent to the Farmer's Agency building.

By 1904, membership had grown to 118 members. The initiation fee and dues remained at $20 and $2 per year, respectively.

With the Nation in the midst of World War I, the Lodge rose to meet its patriotic duty by purchasing Liberty Bonds and remitting the dues of its members who were active in the Nation's Armed Forces. In 1917, the Lodge seen need to raise its yearly dues to $3 and the initiation fee to $30.

The decade of the '20s was ushered in in-style with the chartering of the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in 1920. The Lodge continued its growth and community influence and by the mid '20s, it was determined that it should have its own home.

With strong support from the newly formed local Eastern Star Chapter, the Lodge formed a Temple Association, which undertook issuing bonds for the construction of the current Temple building. The basement was dug with picks and shovels by members and friends. The walls of which, consisted of poured aggregate. The cornerstone was set with proper ceremony on July 16, 1928, upon which, the remaining two stories, of brick construction, were erected. The Temple was dedicated in a special ceremony on February 22, 1929.

The years of the Great Depression were difficult for the Lodge. It was now faced by extreme indebtedness, many member's dues being in arrears, and few new petitions for membership. However, Freemasonry in Oakland City survived.

As the decade of the '30s came to a close and that of the '40s began, just when the Lodge was on a path to recovery, it was beset with more difficulties. The onset of World War II again caused the Lodge to face a shortage of potential new members, as well as a shortage of time and resources of existing members. However, the Lodge again rose up to meet its patriotic duty, by assisting in its Country's conservation efforts and war debt financing. Also, again the dues of active members of the Armed Forces were remitted.

It was during the war years that the Lodge and local OES Chapter recognized the situation to formally address the needs of the young ladies of the community. Thus, in June 1943, a local chapter of Rainbow for Girls was chartered, and continued in existence up through the mid '90s.

The post World War II years saw a period like no other in the growth of the Lodge. Many servicemen returning home from the war, took a keen interest in Freemasonry, and joined the Lodge. It should also be noted, that many who had earlier dropped from the ranks, asked to be re-instated. This growth continued on up into the '60s.

During these post war years, the Lodge again acted to address the needs of the youth of the community. This time, it was for the young men. On November 6, 1951, the Lodge obtained a charter for a local Chapter of the Order of DeMolay. This Chapter continued in existence until it was merged into a county-wide Chapter.

The years during the late '70s, '80s, and early '90s again, have not been kind to the Lodge. With high inflation driving up costs, many activities competing for an individual's time, and a more mobile society, the Lodge for the first time was faced with an extended period of declining membership. However, as before, the Lodge has persevered, and quite recently, has again shown signs of rebounding.

As the '90s come to a close, and the 21st century begins, Oakland City Lodge is faced with many challenges - some old, some new, and some not even having been dreamed of yet. How it will meet these challenges is yet unknown. However, one thing is known. If it continues to observe and espouse the principles of Freemasonry, it will not only meet these challenges, it will continue to flourish and grow as all Freemasonry has done throughout the centuries.

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This page was last updated on 02/02/2003 07:25 PM
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This site was created by Chawn E. Caniff, Oakland City Indiana.