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.
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.
Riverdale Masonic Lodge No. 709
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.
At a Emergent Communication of Riverdale Lodge No.709 held at the above date, officers present:
Bro. W. G. Sears.......Chaplain
|Bro. E. P Smith.....
||Bro. J. A. McLendon....
|Bro. J. A. Odell...
||Bro. Earl Lockwood....
|Bro. S. B. Lewis....
||Bro. R. W. Camp..........
|Bro. J. B. Trimble
||Bro. H. M. Williams....
|Bro. H. G. Spriggs.
||Bro. T. S. Oliver.........
. Jr. S
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)
Our attendance tonight is Estimated at more than one Hundred with twenty Lodges represented. They were:
|Washington Lodge No 19||Davidson Lodge No 334||Capitol View Lodge No 640
|Mount Vernon Lodge No 22||Oakland City Lodge No 373||Ben Hill Lodge No 674
|Laurens Lodge No 75 ||Forest Park Lodge No 399 ||Stockbridge Lodge No 691
|Jonesboro Lodge No 87||College Park Lodge No 454||W D Luckie Lodge No 89
|Philistine Lodge No 486||Bartlett Lodge No 139||Hapeville Lodge No 591
|Lakewood Lodge No 143||Union City Lodge No 600||East 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 # 87||Members from Cascade Lodge #94||Thomas Arthur Kemp, Jr.
|David Harden Camp||Claud Ezric Lee||Members from Adams Lodge #71||John Charles Phillips
|Howard Lamar Camp||John Owen Lee||Members from East Point Lodge #288||Curtis Lee Creasy
|Robert Wiley Camp||Earl Lockwood||Earl Pugh Smith, Sr.
|Fred Crawford Cargile||James Arthur O'Dell||Earl Pugh Smith, Jr.
|James Wilson Dumas||John Rivers, Jr.||Members from Flint Hill Lodge #371||Edward Franklin Morris
|Perlus Prestley Dumas||Noah Clyde Roberts||Members from Forest Park Lodge #399||Hugh Thomas Vincent
|Will Elyah Huie||Walter Glen Spriggs||Harold Milton Williams
|Noah Wilburn Kelley||Julius Biglow Trimble||Members from Joseph C. Greenfield Lodge #400||Thaddeus Samuel Oliver
|Howard Edward Knowles||Wylie Thomas Young||Members from John R. Wilkinson Lodge #432||James Avery McLendon
|Robert L. Lasseter||Members from College Park Lodge #454||Jesse Howard Evans
|Members from Panthersville Lodge #543||James Alton Pittman||Thomas Sanders Harper
|Members from Grant Park Lodge #604||George Willingham||Clyde Branan Roundtree
|Members from Rico Lodge #663||Samuel Bohannon Morris||Members from Inman Lodge #637
||Samuel Bailey Lewis, Sr.|
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
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
"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
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
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 .........