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Riverdale Lodge #709

Not much remains of the history of Riverdale Masonic Lodge #441 except the minute books. These are often very brief and not well documented, so I have confined my research, for the moment, to the history of Riverdale Masonic Lodge #709.

What follows are the minutes of the emergent meeting of Riverdale Lodge #709.

Part II
Riverdale Masonic Lodge No. 709

Brethren, 52 years, almost to the day, after Riverdale Masonic Lodge No. 441 was granted a charter, another charter was issued by the Grand Lodge of Georgia to Riverdale Masonic Lodge No. 709. This took place on October 27, 1953, four days before the close of the fiscal year of the Grand Lodge. Since all lodges begin their new year in the month of January, it was not until then that the lodge was officially constituted.

The first address of Riverdale Lodge No. 709 was on the upper floor of a building owned by Mr. Ed McKown at 479 Main Street in what was then the main business district of Riverdale. It was in this building that the founders of the Lodge were rewarded for their efforts when the lodge was officially opened for the transaction of business.

Brethren, since this book is about the history of Riverdale Lodge, I feel that the minutes of the Emergent meeting, held on Thursday, January 7, 1954 should be included here in their entirety. The following is taken from the book originally started to record the minutes of the meetings for Riverdale Lodge No. 709. The wording and spelling are presented here exactly as they are written in this minute book. The bold character represent the pre printed format in the minute books.

Masonic Hall, Thursday 7:30 Eve'g January 7th 1954

At a Emergent Communication of Riverdale Lodge No.709 held at the above date, officers present:

Bro. E. P Smith.....…W M Bro. J. A. McLendon....…S D
Bro. J. A. Odell...…..S W Bro. Earl Lockwood....….J D
Bro. S. B. Lewis....….J W Bro. R. W. Camp..........…Tyler
Bro. J. B. Trimble….Sec Bro. H. M. Williams....….Sr. S
Bro. H. G. Spriggs.…Treas Bro. T. S. Oliver.........…. Jr. S
Bro. W. G. Sears.......Chaplain

Lodge opened on Masters Degree in Masonry in due form.

This meeting was called for the purpose of constituting Riverdale Lodge #709. After the Lodge was opened our Most Worshipful Grand Master Bro. Marshall a Chapman took charge of affairs and with the assistance of the following Brothers he proceeded to install the officers of Riverdale Lodge No 709.

DGM    H W Taylor Washington Lodge No 19 Cuthbert Ga.
SGW    G. S. Peck Palestine Lodge No 486 Atlanta Ga.
JGW    W J Penn Dougherty Lodge No 591 Albany Ga.
GS    D. W. Locklin MT Vernon Lodge 22 Athens Ga.
act. Chap.   R. L. Taylor Stockbridge Lodge 691 Stockbridge Ga.
SGD. act.  W. O. Henderson East Point Lodge 288 East Point Ga.
act JGS   A L Harrell Capitol View No 640 Atlanta Ga.
act SGS    C. V. Bailey East Point 288 East Point Ga.
act G Tyler    Pearlus Adams East Point 288 East Point Ga.

There were several short talks made by visitors from the following Lodges, East Point Hapeville College Park Jonesboro Forest Park Capitol View and Oakland City. They all offered us their assistance should we Ever need it. After the Ceremonies were over Grand Master Chapman Closed our Lodge in short form and the Brethren gathered at the Community House for refreshments.

(Continued on Back of this sheet)

(Brought Forward)

Our attendance tonight is Estimated at more than one Hundred with twenty Lodges represented. They were:

Washington Lodge No 19Davidson Lodge No 334Capitol View Lodge No 640
Mount Vernon Lodge No 22Oakland City Lodge No 373Ben Hill Lodge No 674
Laurens Lodge No 75 Forest Park Lodge No 399 Stockbridge Lodge No 691
Jonesboro Lodge No 87College Park Lodge No 454W D Luckie Lodge No 89
Philistine Lodge No 486Bartlett Lodge No 139Hapeville Lodge No 591
Lakewood Lodge No 143Union City Lodge No 600East Point Lodge No 288
Inman Lodge No 637

E P Smith W Master

J. B. Trimble Secty.


A careful study of these minutes will reveal several mistakes which just goes to prove that, although these minutes or any such historical documents of whatever kind when used as a record of history, history is not always 100% correct because of just such errors. Take for example, Lakewood Lodge is listed above as having a number of 143 when, in fact, the number of this lodge is 443. Not only is this the wrong number, but because of this, it is out of place in the chronology. But this is not the only error. See if you can pick out others. You should also look for errors in this writing too because, although I have tried hard not to, I may have made a few myself.

The Charter Members of Riverdale Lodge No. 709 are as follows:

Members from Jonesboro Lodge # 87Members from Cascade Lodge #94Thomas Arthur Kemp, Jr.
David Harden CampClaud Ezric LeeMembers from Adams Lodge #71John Charles Phillips
Howard Lamar CampJohn Owen LeeMembers from East Point Lodge #288Curtis Lee Creasy
Robert Wiley CampEarl LockwoodEarl Pugh Smith, Sr.
Fred Crawford CargileJames Arthur O'DellEarl Pugh Smith, Jr.
James Wilson DumasJohn Rivers, Jr.Members from Flint Hill Lodge #371Edward Franklin Morris
Perlus Prestley DumasNoah Clyde RobertsMembers from Forest Park Lodge #399Hugh Thomas Vincent
Will Elyah HuieWalter Glen SpriggsHarold Milton Williams
Noah Wilburn KelleyJulius Biglow TrimbleMembers from Joseph C. Greenfield Lodge #400Thaddeus Samuel Oliver
Howard Edward KnowlesWylie Thomas YoungMembers from John R. Wilkinson Lodge #432James Avery McLendon
Robert L. LasseterMembers from College Park Lodge #454Jesse Howard Evans
Members from Panthersville Lodge #543James Alton PittmanThomas Sanders Harper
Members from Grant Park Lodge #604George WillinghamClyde Branan Roundtree
Members from Rico Lodge #663Samuel Bohannon MorrisMembers from Inman Lodge #637 Samuel Bailey Lewis, Sr.

Regular Meetings

At the first regular communication of this lodge on January 14, a mere seven days later, the petitions for the degrees were read for seven candidates which demonstrated the need for the establishment of the lodge in this community and for the teachings of the gentle Craft of Freemasonry. Of the seven original candidates there were three who later became Worshipful Master of Riverdale Lodge #709. They were Ciscero Hunt Jackson, James Oliver Coogler, and Franklin Lamar Hutcheson.

That same night, Worshipful Master E. P. Smith appointed Bros. J. W. Dumas, J. A. McLendon and H. M. Williams to serve on the first finance committee of Riverdale Lodge. At the next stated meeting, January 28th, Junior Steward T. S. Oliver suggested that an article be prepared and sent to the Masonic Messenger to announce the constitution of Riverdale Lodge, the dignitaries present at the time and the festivities that followed.

A motion was made and carried that the relief committee be authorized to send flowers to the families at the death of any member, their mother, father or wife. So it was on this date that the flower committee had its beginning.

Brethren, apparently Riverdale Lodge "hit the ground running" because at the third regular communication on February 11th, after the regular business had been conducted, the Lodge of Master Masons was called off and a Lodge of Entered Apprentice Masons was called on and four of the original seven candidates were initiated into Freemasonry.

Seven days later, on February 18, a called communication was held at the Lodge for the purpose of conferring the Entered Apprentice Degree on two more of the original candidates who had missed the first E. A. Degree and a third candidate as well. The minutes do not record where this third candidate came from. One of the original seven candidates did not, for whatever reason, receive his degrees at this time.

I thought "I" picked up the Entered Apprentice catechism pretty quick, but one week later, on February 25th, the first class of E. A's was examined for proficiency on the catechism and passed! Now, either they had one heck of a coach, or I am not nearly as mentally adept as I had given myself credit for, which is entirely possible, and for those of you who know me, you may think that is quite probable.

That same night, the Lodge conferred the Fellowcraft Degree on these same candidates. Brethren, these officers and this Lodge were putting in some overtime! Either that or they had a much better program of time management than we have today because the minutes of this meeting reflect that after all the business of the Lodge had been disposed of, the examination of the candidates, the conferring of the degree, even the Winding Stair Lecture given, the Lodge still managed to close at 10:15 PM. That is, providing of course, if they didn't fudge a little in the record.

The first Master's Degree conferred by the officers of Riverdale Lodge #709 was on the 18th day of March. The minutes do not record which of these three men, George Render Swygert, Franklin Lamar Hutcheson or Ciscero Hunt Jackson, was raised first nor by whom, but the order in which they were recorded would indicate that Bro. Swygert had this distinction.

These first two classes of initiates went on to become Master Masons and served the Craft and the community faithfully, some serving in the public interest as well.
A special note of thanks should be forwarded to Bro. J. W. Dumas for his generosity in advancing to the Lodge the sum of $70.00 for the charter fee. This fee was returned to him at the Regular Communication on March 25, by a motion duly seconded and approved by the brethren. At that same meeting another motion was made and carried that the by-laws be amended to read as follows:

"Our meetings will begin on the second and fourth Thursdays at 7:30 PM during the months of October, November, December, January, February and March. Our meetings will begin on the second and fourth Thursdays at 8:00 PM during the months of April, May, June, July, Aug. and September."

At this meeting also, the subject of having a barbecue was discussed. The Worshipful Master asked the finance committee to go to work on this idea and try to have some information as to the feasibility of such an event and their recommendations at the next meeting.

It is now April 1. The Lodge is not yet 4 months old and already its officers have conferred two EA Degrees, two Fellowcraft Degrees, one Masters Degree, has had two called Communications and did, on this night, at the third called communication, confer the second Masters Degree of the year and closed the Lodge before 10 PM.

April 8. The plans for the barbecue were finalized with the date being set for the 5th of June, thus beginning our annual fund-raiser. This ambitious endeavor would print 2000 tickets, some to be mailed to the members of the Lodge. Now, as to HOW they were going to cook such a quantity of meat was a question that was still to be addressed. This again fell to the finance committee. They reported that they were going to ask the Civic Association for permission to build a pit on their grounds and arrange for the use of their club house to serve the food in. At the next regular meeting on April 22, the committee reported that the Civic Association had given them permission to proceed with their plans. The task of building the pit fell to another committee chaired by Bro. Clyde Roberts.

At the stated meeting on May 27, Bro. Roberts reported that the pit was ready for use. Bro. J. W. Dumas read a list of names that he had appointed to the various committees and asked that they work closely with the chairman of the committee that they had been assigned to.

Bro. Hancock then informed the Brethren that he had knowledge of a piece of property that was 90' X 90' X 165' that he thought the Lodge could possibly purchase for a very reasonable price. A motion was made by Bro. J. W. Dumas, seconded by Bro. J. A. McLendon that Bro. Roberts serve as chairman and appoint his own committee members to look into this matter more thoroughly.

To say that the barbecue was a success would be greatly understating the impact that it must have had on this Lodge at the time, for the balance on hand in its checking account at the close of the meeting on May 27, after paying for the materials for the pit and all bills presented then, was $112.49. On June 10, the minutes of that communication recorded that the total income from the barbecue was $1712.30. Total expenses as recorded were $756.03 leaving a tidy profit of $956.27. After paying some small bills that evening, the Secretary and Treasurer closed the books on that date with $1080.66 in the checking account. That must have given the Lodge a healthy "shot in the arm." Remember, Brethren, in 1954 this amount of money was quite large.

September 9. This was the first stated meeting over which the first Worshipful Master of Riverdale Lodge #709 did not preside. Worshipful Master Earle P. Smith had been stricken with a massive heart attack, and on September 12, 1954, the Grand Master of the Universe summoned him to that Celestial Lodge above, there to remain in Eternal Fellowship with those true and trusted brethren who have gone this way before. It marked the death of the first Master of the Lodge, a dubious distinction.

September 13, a Lodge of Sorrow was opened for the purpose of paying the Last Sad Tribute of Respect to the memory of our deceased brother, W. B. Earle P. Smith Sr. The Masonic graveside services were conducted by W.B. John Lewis of East Point Lodge #288 at the Hillcrest Cemetery. The Senior Warden, Bro. J. A. O'Dell, then acted as Worshipful Master for the remainder of the year.

December the 9th saw Bro. J. A. O'Dell appoint a committee of three to draw up the first by-laws of the lodge. They were Bros. J. W. Dumas, Frank Lamar Hutcheson and James Avery McLendon.

December 23, 1954 was the first Annual Communication of Riverdale Lodge #709 and the first time an election and installation of new officers was held by the brethren of our Lodge. Bro. W. T. Young, having been asked to preside over this function by Bro. J. A. O'Dell, installed the new officers for the year of .........

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