HISTORY OF MORRISTOWN LODGE #231
Hamblen County Tennessee
CHARTERED OCTOBER 5, 1853
Even before the town of Morristown received a charter from Grainger County, nine Master Masons living in the Morristown area sent a"Petition for Dispensation for a New Lodge " to the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, F. & A.M. The "Petition for Dispensation to form a New Lodge" in Morristown, Hamblen County, was approved on March 22, 1853. By the time the Grand Lodge issued the Charter to Morristown Lodge No. 231, F. & A. M., on October 5, 1853, five additional Brethern had been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason.
After Grainger County granted the town of Morristown a Charter for Incorporation in 1855, Rev. J.W. Shelton was elected the first Mayor of the city of Morristown. Other Lodge 231 Brethern elected Mayor during the period of 1855 thru 1860 were Samuel L. Huffmaster, 1857, Drury Morris, 1858, and J.B. Moore, 1860. During the same period Curtis Eames, Rev. J.W. Nicodemus, John F. Noe, Sr., and N.F. Reed were Lodge 231 members elected Alderman. Only seven other men were elected as either Mayor or Alderman during this period of time.
It is believed that the first home for Morristown Lodge
No. 231 was the Morristown Female Academy...
It is believed that the first home for Morristown Lodge No. 231 was the Morristown Female Academy. This building was located on a lot near the present Rose Center and was built by Professor S.D. Miles, a charter member of the Lodge. The minutes of the Lodge indicate that the Lodge net in the Academy prior to the Civil War. John Portrum, another instructor at the Academy, was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on January 4th, 1855, and was Worshipful Master from 1861 to 1863. The Lodge continued to meet every month after the Civil War began until October 1861. After that meeting, there was a July 1862 meeting, two June 1863 meetings to elect and install T.W. Turley as Worshipful Master, and a final meeting of the Civil War on August 6, 1863.
In March 1866, the Lodge voted that former Treasurer C.E. Carriger be released from liability for any
of the Lodge's money reemaining in his hands at the end of the Civil War that were in Confederate currency.
The first post Civil War meeting did not take place until November 2, 1865. At this meeting, a committee was appointed to obtain Brother William McFarlands permission to use the T.W. Turley's vacant Mansion House for the next meeting. During the next six months, the building committee examined, repaired, and made alterations to the old Lodge building. Committee's were appointed to fabricate an altar and furnish the Lodge with Aprons, candles, candlesticks, furniture, and spittoons. In March 1866, the Lodge voted that former
Treasurer C.E. Carriger be released from liability for any of the Lodge's money reemaining in his hands at the end of the Civil War that were in Confederate currency. Although it is not known who is responsible for the Female Academy after the death of Brother S.D. Miles in 1859, members of the Lodge were mentioned as Trustees of the Academy in the 1866 minutes. In April 1867, the Lodge procured a title to the Academy and an extension to the boundary of the lot. Brother Thomas P. Summers was elected Principal of the Female Academy and the building was renamed the Masonic Female Academy. Two months later, the Lodge decided to start a Male School and elected Brother Alfred W. Wilson, Principal of the Male School. The Male School later known as Reagan High School was located at the old Bethel Church near the street intersection and Bethel Spring at the old power plant on North Cumberland. In the fall of 1867, 161 male and 110 female students were enrolled at the two Schools. All Trustees for both schools were members of the Lodge.
Morristown Chapter No.79 received its Charter from the Grand Chapter on October 1, 1868.
With a recommendation from Pearl Chapter No. 24, a Petition for Dispensation was granted by the Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons of Tennessee, on October 12, 1867, to nine Morristown Companions to form a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Morristown Chapter No.79 received its Charter from the Grand Chapter on October 1, 1868. About a year after Morristown Lodge No. 231 received its Charter, DeWitt Clinton Senter was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. Brother Senter was elected the 21st Governor of Tennessee and served from 1869 to 1871. In 1871, G. W. Burnett and Morristown Lodge 231 Brethren George W. Folsom, Drury Morris, and John Murphy purchased the land that the Hamblen County Courthouse was built on.
Under the agreement, the Lodge agreed to only use the upper floor as a Masonic Lodge and to pay for the costs for the completing the upper story of the building.....
On August 5, 1882, Morristown Lodge No. 231 entered into an agreement to accept the upper story of the lookout Bank of Morristown building on the northeast corner of Main and Henry Streets. Under the agreement, the Lodge agreed to only use the upper floor as a Masonic Lodge and to pay for the costs for the completing the upper story of the building, including joists supporting the upper story, brickwork from the lower story, upper story cornice, and roof. In April 1883, the Lodge received a deed for the upper story of the building and as a result the Lodge moved to its second home.
In 1902, a dispensation was granted by the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of the State of Tennessee to the Companions of Morristown to form a Council of Royal and Select Masters. This Petition for Dispensation was signed by ten Companions. On January 26,1903 the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters issued a Charter to Morristown Council No. 85. Unfortunately the Charter for Morristown Council No. 85 was arrested exactly 28 years later on January 26, 1931
In 1905, Hamblen Chapter No. 31 received a Charter from the Order of Eastern Star...
In 1905, Hamblen Chapter No. 31 received a Charter from the Order of Eastern Star. It is interesting to note that Lena McClister was Worthy Matron for the first two years. Accompanying her were Worthy Patrons Dr. Teda Ashabel Hisey, 1905, and James Henry McClister, 1906. These two men and Charles Glenn Robertson are the only members of Hamblen County Chapter No. 31 to have been honored as Grand Patrons.
On March 24, 1911, three Sir Knights from Coeur de Lion Commandery No. 9 and eleven Sir Knights from former Greenville Commandery No. 20 petitioned to form a new Commandery in Morristown. The Charter to Morristown Commandery No. 22 was issued by the Grand Commandery Knights Templar of Tennessee on June 23, 1911.
On July 24, 1924, Morristown Lodge No. 231 purchased the two
story Lookout Bank of Morristown. The building was torn down and
a new four-story building was erected in its place. The first
floor of the new building was occupied by the Hamilton National Bank. It
was finished in marble and concrete with arched concrete and marble windows.
The second floor was used for offices. The Lodge was
located on the third and fourth floors. It is believed that the
Lodge and York Rite Bodies met in a two story, brick building on South Cumberland, near
Louise Street, during the construction period. Although the building
was sold to the Hamilton National Bank on November 1, 1944, the Lodge continued to use its
facilities until the early 1950s.
On December 18, 1924,
Morristown Lodge No. 231, F. & A.M., Inc., was chartered as a corporation under the
laws of the State of Tennessee. The Corporation is the governing
body for the Morristown Lodge No. 231 building. It is composed of
three representatives each from Morristown Lodge No. 231, Chapter No. 79, Council 113, and
Commandery No. 22. Its 1994 officers are James Pierce McGinnis,
President, Dr Crampton Harris Helms, Vice President, and Clyde Taylor Thompson, Secretary/
On February 23, 1948,
four Companions from Nashville Council No. 1, eight Companions from Knoxville Council No.
75, one from Greenville Council No. 77, and three Companions from Holston Council No. 101
petitioned to form a new Council in Morristown. A recommendation
from Greenville Council No. 77 accompanied the Petition for Dispensation for a New
Council the Charter to Morristown Council No. 113 was issued by the Grand Council of
Royal and Select Masters of the State of Tennessee on January 24, 1949.
Morristown Lodge No.
231 purchased the Morristown Steam Laundry Building at 120 West First North on December
19, 1950. After this building was completely remodeled in the
early 1950s, it served the Lodge and the York Rite Bodies until the end of 1993. The City of Morristown purchased the building in 1993 because it
needed the land to erect the new City Hall, now under construction.
The latest Chapter for
Morristown Lodge No. 231 began on January 6, 1994, when Worshipful Master Clarence Lee
McKinney gave a rap of the gavel and announced, The officers will take their
stations and places. There was 58 Master Masons in
attendance that evening in the recently completed Morristown Lodge No. 231 building,
located at 120 South Mill Street. Only two days earlier, this
building was used for the first time when Worthy Matron Vickie Moore presided over an O.
E. S. Hamblen Chapter No. 31 meeting.
A number of the Brethren of the various Morristown Masonic
Bodies have been honored to serve as Grand Officers. Except as
noted, these Brethren served in Tennessee Grand Bodies. James
Henry McClister was President of Order of High Priesthood in 1890, Grand High Priest in
1894, Grand Master in 1900, and a Grand Patron of the Eastern Star. D.
E. Shields, M.D., was Grand High Priest in 1902. Teda Ashabel
Hisey, M.D., was President of Order of High Priesthood in 1910, Grand Master in 1915, and
a Grand Patron of the Eastern Star. Northern Olofsson was
Secretary of Board of Custodians for the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in 1950.
Lawrence James Sharp was Grand High Priest in 1959 and Potentate for Kerbela Temple
in 1964. Sir Knight James Pierce McGinnis was Grand Commander in
1970 and 1971. Sir Knight Crampton Harris Helms, M.D., was Grand Commander in 1986. Charles Glenn Robertson was Grand Patron for the Order of Eastern
Star. Finally, Sir Knight Peter Fred Lesley, Formerly of
Morristown Chapter No.79, became Grand Commander for the Michigan Grand Commandery, Grand
Secretary for the Michigan Grand Chapter, and Chairman of the Holy Land Committee for the
Grand Encampment after moving to Michigan.
(All information taken from "Cornerstone
Laying & Dedication of Morristown Lodge No. 231 F. & A.
M. November 12, 1994")