HomeThis is the first in a series of papers on the History of our Lodge.
I hope I can do it justice.
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Riverdale Masonic Lodge:

a short history.

Riverdale Masonic Lodge #441

Brethren, be it known that MWB Max Meyerhardt, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Georgia under whose direction the Grand Lodge of Georgia F & A M did on October 31, 1901 grant a working Charter to Riverdale Masonic Lodge, thereby making it the 441st lodge in the state of Georgia to be so constituted. It was constituted in the county of Clayton in the, then un-incorporated, community of Riverdale.

The Charter members are as follows:

A. O. Allen,O. J. Coogler,B. F. Hancock,A. A. Huie,J. L. McWilliams
J. K. Babb,A. B. Coogler,J. F. Hemperly,C. K. Jones,W. V. McConnell
W. O. Camp,W. T. Dodd,Joseph T. Huie,W. A. Hutchinson,W. G. Travis
J. W. Creel,T. E. Dodd,James A. Huie,J. T. Milner

This community, and consequently our Lodge, acquired its name when the railroad, which was badly in need of firewood for fuel to power the steam engines of their trains (for coal was not in use at that time), was laid from Atlanta to Ft. Valley to ferry the cotton crop to the mills there and, "....was having a difficult time acquiring land for side tracks, a depot, houses for the foreman and section workers etc., and gladly accepted a very liberal donation (50 acres) from Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Rivers. Consequently, this became the main stop."1 This supplanted the original selection for the main stop which was the community of Selina where a depot and a telegraph office had previously been planned.

"Then of course, a post office was needed and that post office must have a name. Since Mr. and Mrs. Rivers who had made this donation also owned all the business section of what is now Riverdale, it seemed fitting that this post office should bear their namesake--hence Riverdale".2 Mr. William Spratlin Rivers' picture now hangs in the Riverdale City Hall.

The first address of this lodge was in a building constructed in 1890 for use as a school and the Lodge Hall for the Independent Order of Oddfellows. This Lodge, Riverdale Lodge #45, of which there were 17 original, or charter members, was granted a dispensation for its charter on February 19, 1890 by Grand Master Richard Russell, the father of Richard B. Russell who served as U. S. Senator from Georgia for many years. The building was a "...large two story structure, centrally located on the lot adjoining the Presbyterian Church lot, (and) was a great drawing card of interest to this entire district. The lot was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Rivers".3As you can see, this Independent Order of Odd Fellows' Lodge preceded Riverdale Masonic Lodge #441 by eleven years, and they were gracious enough to share their quarters with the Masonic Lodge.

This lot of one and one half acres was located north of and adjacent to the Presbyterian Church property in what is now the 6600 block of Church Street (Ga. Hwy. 139) in the City of Riverdale. The Deed is recorded in Deed Book E Page 486 at the Court House in Jonesboro, Ga. It was deeded on July 16, recorded on August 18, 1890 from William Spratlin and Martha Rivers to D. A. Mayo, E. C. Nisbet, J. P. Porter, F. M. Roberts, and D. C. Huie as Trustees of Riverdale Academy and J. R. McCullough, J. R. Nisbet, and W. C. James as Trustees of Riverdale Lodge #45, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It is located in Land Lot 151 of the 13th District of Clayton County.

"This was a frame building. The upper story was used by two secret organizations; the Masons and Odd Fellows. The first floor which was just one enormous room, was used for 'The Seat of Learning'. The "Seat of Learning" was the name of the room, the name of the school was "Riverdale Academy".4

"Later as the attendance increased, the secret organizations locked their skeltons (sic), goats, chains, etc., in a closet and permitted their hall to be converted into a school room where, at first, the frightened youngsters sat alert, with their ears cocked and their eyes glued to the door, in a constant state of anxiety lest some of those ghostly monstrosities should escape from that closet and sneak upon them unawares. However, these fears soon subsided and the training began in earnest".5

Regular meetings were held in this structure until the building was finally condemned (circa 1906-1907) when, "....it was replaced by a two room brick structure with two large porches and cloak rooms.6

"It was a proud moment when the people congregated for the ceremonial laying of the corner stone. Later, the cloak rooms and porches were torn away and replaced by two large rooms, a hall and an emposing (sic) entrance".7 This school was built on the same site as the old frame building. The corner stone laying ceremony was conducted by the Grand Lodge of Georgia on December 8, 1907, J. L. Mayson PM presided over the ceremony.
1 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg.5
2 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 5
3 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 7
4 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 7
5 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 7
6 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 7
7 The History of the City of Riverdale, Ga. pg. 8
8 A special note of thanks to J Edward Stallings Grand Secretary of the Independent Order of Oddfellows for his research on the Oddfellows Lodge #45 in Riverdale
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