THE HISTORY OF ORNAN LODGE # 69

By James Alexander Scott, III

 

 

On May 20, 1849 eight Master Masons convened at Dr. M. C. Sullivan’s for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of establishing a legal Lodge of A.F.M. to be holden at or in the immediate vicinity of Fork Shoals, SC, Reedy River, Greenville District and after consultation and mature deliberation they resolved unanimously that they would apply by petition to the Grand Lodge of the State in which they reside for a letter of dispensation to impower them to assemble as a lawful lodge to discharge the duties of masonry in a constitutional manner according to the regulation of this Grand Lodge and that they have nominaated and do recommend David Jones, first WM, Micajah Berry, SW and David Boyd, JW. 

 

The petition was signed by this lawful number of Master Masons and recommended by the Palmetto Lodge No 19 holden at Laurens Court House, SC and forwarded to the Grand Lodge and Grand Secretary Albert G. Mackey, Charleston, SC who laid it before Grand Lodge.  The Petition having met the requirements of the Grand Lodge a dispensation was soon forwarded to the petitioners authorizing them to assemble as a legal Lodge for a certain time on probation.  The names of the eight Masons are

David Jones

Joseph Wham

Micah Berry

John Townsend

William Mahaffey

Dr. M.C. Sullivan

David Boyd

Samuel Moore

 

The first meeting was held in a lodge room at Bro. Micah Berry’s home what we know now as “Sweet  Water” community about three miles down Reedy River from here on July 5, 1849.  The lodge was opened on the Fellowcraft Degree and all business was conducted on the second degree.  The first petition  was from James F. Boyd—a committee was appointed to investigate his character and they reported favorable on which he was balloted for and duly elected, being in waiting was introduced in due and ancient form and initiated in the first degree of masonry, he paying the useful fee of $10.00.  It is strange how they opened and conducted business on the lower degrees,.   On April 5, 1850 a letter from the Grand Secretary that at a resolution at recent communication of the Grand Lodge, stated that all business, balloting and trials should be on the Master Mason’s Degree, but I still see the practice up into the 1860s and 70s.  After the first meeting under dispensation the lodge had many meetings to conduct business and work.  It was common to have visitors from Hiram Lodge #68 at Anderson Court House, Pendleton Lodge # 34, and Palmetto Lodge #19 at Laurens Court House present at these meetings, usually 3 a month.  On November  15 – 17 the Lodge was pleased to have the presence of the Grand Secretary at three special communications.  During this time the Lodge had two EA degrees, Two F.C. degrees and on M M Degree.  A committee was appointed to change the name of the Lodge and the name was changed to Ornan Lodge.  The Lodge paid Bro A G Mackey $25 for the honor of his paying the lodge a visit at this time and some much needed lecturing-----.

 

On December 4, 1949 at the quarterly communication of the Grand Lodge a warrant of constitution was granted to Ornan Lodge # 69 AFM at Fork Shoals, Greenville District.

 

On June 24, 1850 they met for the first time at Cedar Falls lodge room  about 1 ¼ mi down the river from here on the property of  Bro. James Harrison where he had built a new hall for the masons to meet .  They elected and installed officers for the first time at that meeting, perhaps the term ran from St. John the Baptist to the next one ensuing then.

 

On Oct. 26, 1850 the lodge hall was rented to the Fork Shoals Sons of Temperance for the sum of $20.  This organization was to fight the liquor traffic.  I find that later on in this decade they had two members brought up on Masonic charges.  One had been convicted in District Court for Manslaughter, the other for getting drunk.  The Lodge voted to retain the member convicted of manslaughter due to the situation and to expel the brother for over indulgence, so the Sons of Temperance must have had quite an influence in those days.

 

On January 25, 1851 a request from the George Washington National Monument Committee for help in funding this project was read.  The lodge gave $10. To this fund .  They sent us a picture of the monument and it still hangs on the wall of this hall even though the finished G W Monument looks different from this picture.

 

On June 21, 1851 the Lodge paid to James Harrison $40. For rent on the lodge hall and purchased the first Ahiman Rezon for $4.

 

On May 2, 1856 the lodge talked of moving to Augusta Rd. but never voted.

 

On July 2, 1858 a committee was appointed to look for a place near Pisgah Church to put a Hall, they found a place but the lodge voted it down.

Dec 2nd 1859 the lodge received a letter from Labanon Lodge #43 advising of a rejected candidate.  I cannot find a record of this lodge I wonder if it was in the Lebanon Church Community near here.

 

Dec 13, 1860 The lodge voted to move the lodge from Cedar Falls Lodge Room to Col. T.L. Boseman’s Store at Plains P.O. ( we think  is were present day Simpsonville).

 

Dec 19, 1860 met at Col. T.L. Boseman’s home.  Bro. Boseman was the commander of Company E of Hampton’s Legion  (Calvary) under General Wade Hampton.  It is said that they left the Fairveiw Church community and went to Belton, S.C. and boarded the cars (passenger train) and went to Columbia to join up with General Hampton.  From there to the Army of Northern Virginia by train and immediately went into battle.  Many of the Brethren as well as others in this community served in this company.

 

Jan. 4, 1861 met at Col. T.L. Boseman’s Store at Plains P.O.

 

Feb 1, 1861 Part of the members asked  to form a lodge at Col. Jas. McCollough’s place.  They recommended to the Grand Lodge for Dispensation and divided the wealth of the Lodge.  I don’t think this lodge ever got off the ground for I find James McCollough the WM in 1865.  Col. James McCollough was the commander of the 16th South Carolina Regiment, which served in the Army of Tennessee during the War Between the States and was serving under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, who surrendered to the infamous W.T. Sherman near Smithfield N.C. in April 1865.

 

July 3rd 1862 paid tribute to Bro. W.L. M. Austin who died Dec 6th 1861 of Typhoid Fever which had been contracted while in the service of his country( South Carolina, Confederate States) in Memphis Tn administering to the the recruits of the sick and afflicted. ( Bro. Austin must have been a doctor).

 

No minutes from July 3rd 1861 until May 12th 1865( in the proceedings of the G.L. 1864 GM J.H. Boatwright counselled understanding and clemency for the dormant Lodges, and requested the Grand Secretary to make no report of such delinquent groups.  “it would be manifestly unjust and oppressive” he said “to enforce a law made for times of peace and prosperity against Lodges  whose delinquency arised not from their own fault, but from the exigencies of the times, and the outward pressure of circumstances and situations which they could neither avoid nor remedy.”  Time enough, he suggested, to clear these matters up when peace was restored and the Masons in service had returned from the camps and fields of battle to their homes.  The Annual Communication acquiesced and resolved that these lodges would not be forced to forfeit their Warrants as would be the case under normal circumstances.) on May 12th, 1865 they met  at Cedar Falls Lodge room w/Col. Jas McColloough serving as Worshipful Master. And B.P. West Secretary. Lodge voted to have a St. John the Baptist Day Picnic at Cedar Falls and to invite the Brethren from Recovery, Hiram, Palmetto, and Williamston. To come.  To have Hampton’s Legion Band to provide music.( can find no record of this event taking place)

 

June 9, 1865  committee to study the practice of receiving Confederate currency for fees for degrees.  Lodge was meeting Weekly and doing work many masons were initiated ,passed and raised in just a few months, on June 22th 18 E.A. were passed to the more honorable degree of a fellow Craft as well as initiating a crowd of E.A. mason’s and raising a lot of Master Masons on the same day.  On a meeting day it was common to have all three degrees and sometime two of the same degree why I do not know they had two of the same degrees on the same day because they could have as many in a degree as they saw fit.  Some of the candidates paid in U.S. currency, some with confederate currency, and some paid with a due bill (credit) these proved to be a disaster later on in the seventies as a lot of the due bills had not been paid and apparently the Confederate currency was rendered worthless. On

Dec 1st 1865 the lodge had $1085.00 in Confederate currency, $3559.00 in U.S. currency, and $5.00 in gold coin.  Fees were $5.00 w/petition and $5.00 per degree $20.00 total.

 

Aug. 7th 1867 a number of the brethren asked permission to form a lodge at Tumbling Shoals and on

Dec 6, 1867 As McCollough, M.C. Donaldson(some of the people Donaldson AFB was named after),T.A. Perrite, J.H. Wore, J.H. Nash, Er. W. South, Thos. W Traynham,E.C Ragsdale, J.H. Gaines, Robert Arnold(Col. CSA), H.C. Stepp, and Ls. W. Anderson a total of 12 bretheren asked for demit to join Tumbling Shoals Lodge #129.  Jas McCollough was made and Honorary Member, he was currently serving as Worshipful Master.  There is several visitors mentioned in the minutes after this referring to Reedy River Lodge and one time Reedy River Lodge # 128.  I think they were referring to Tumbling Shoals Lodge #129  this lodge however went defunct for I find James McCollough WM of Ornan again in 1875.  This lodge was later reorganized and moved to Princeton.

 

January 1868 the lodge voted to change the stated meeting from 1st Friday to Saturday before the full moon in each month at 4:00 pm  Oct- Apr. and 5:00 May – Sept. the lodge voted to purchase several ½ day lamps.  Prior to this the lodge had always met at 10:00 am or 1:00 pm and needed no lamps.  In the period after the War between the States  the State was suffering terrible economic times, several of the prominent members lost everything and most of them were large landowners, due to the reconstruction and the carpetbagger period.  Hampton was elected governor in 1878 and by the mid 1880s things began to get better.

 

Jan 6, 1877   Bro. Harrison reported that the lodge hall needed  new sills and if the lodge would repair the building he would give them rent free for five years.

 

On November 5, 1881 a motion was made to surrender the charter but the motion failed.

 

On August 2, 1884 Bro. W H L Terry had subscriptions to the amount of $158. On a new hall                                     

 

 On Dec 1, 1888, a committee was appointed to see Fork  Shoals Baptist Church about building  a hall over the schoolhouse on the church property.  On December 14 the committee reported that the church gave them permission to build to the schoolhouse if the Masonic communications would not conflict with the church services.  A committee was appointed to meet with the Farmers Alliance in regard to join us in building a new hall and the alliance agreed.  Then a committee was appointed to see the parents about building a new schoolhouse.  It was decided to build a new schoolhouse and a Masonic hall over the schoolhouse.  Bro. Harrison agreed to sell them the lodge the old hall at Cedar Falls at whatever price the committee saw fit to pay for it.  During the construction and demolition of the old hall the lodge met at Bro. J.W. Harrison’s house.  On March 1, 1890 the lodge met in the new hall for the first time.   The Building committee reported they had spent $76.37 in building the new hall, and were indebted to the amount of $1.90 and that amount was quickly subscribed.  On June 7 the lodge was painted for $9.25 by Bros. Tumblin & Thompson and agreed to receiving a credit towards their annual dues  a sum of $.50 each.  On June 27, 1890 the Grand Lodge met to dedicate the new hall.  The Grand Lodge was opened in Due Form and a copy of the minutes was received from the Grand Secretary,  The only Grand Lodge Officer was the Grand Chaplain , Bro. D.W. Hiott who gave an address as well as RW Bro. F. M. Ansel Grand Master Protem, apparently the DDGM.

 

The lodge at various times rented the hall in1890 to the Odd Fellows for $1. Per month in 1900 to the Woodmen of the World for $5. Per year.

 

The Lodge met in this building for more than fifty-nine years, during both World Wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The school was moved across the road during this period and in 1949 the Lodge appointed a committee to talk to the Church about building a new hall on the Church’s property with a lease.  The  Church agreed and the Brethren went to work. Bros. C.M. Chapman and Jim Peden had sawmills and sawed out the lumber and after the regular communication on July  2nd the brethren, some on vacation for the fourth of July week built the hall and were able to meet in the new hall at the next regular communication on August 6th.  On December 2nd the Grand Lodge of AFM was opened on the EA degree for the purpose of observance of the 100 anniversary of the chartering of Ornan Lodge and to dedicate the new hall.

 

The Lodge met in this hall until April 5th 1983 when we moved into this hall.  The property for this hall was donated to the Lodge by Reigel Textile Corp. which owned the mill down the road a short distance.  Many of the Brethren worked hard and gave generously to the funding and construction of this hall.

 

Through the years this Lodge has had many prominent members some have already been mentioned.  Nearly all of the old family names that many streets, roads, schools, churches, and ect. Have been represented here by their family members who were enrolled as members of Ornan Lodge #69.  We have had two members to become Governors of the State of South Carolina, Bro. Robert A. Cooper, 1920 –22 (the office of Governor was a two year term then) and Bro. Carroll A. Campbell 1886 –94.

 

May the Grand Geometrician  of the universe bless this Lodge’s future as he has blessed its past.

 

 

 

 

Some of the information contained in this report was obtained from the following sources:

 

MACKEY’S HISTORY  OF FREEMASONRY IN SOUTH CAROLINA – MACKEY

 

A HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY IN SOUTH CAROLINA THE YEARS 1860 – 1919   CORNWELL –  WILLIS

 

A HISTORY OF ORNAN LODGE #69 – J.R. TERRY1949

 

Addition

 

I can find where the Scott brothers, William, Archie, and Joseph were initiated into Ornan Lodge after the War Between the States.  I cannot find where any other of the brothers was initiated.  I did see however that Robert Scott and James Mc, Scott was present at the some of the lodge meetings during the 1880s and 90s.  We know that Robert and James served with Col. James McCollough in the 16th S.C. Regiment during the War, it is possible that they could have received their degrees during the war, there were many “army lodges” given dispensation by the Grand Lodge AFM South Carolina during this war, I can find no record of McCollough or Boseman having these dispensations but they were both Past Masters (past presiding officer) and could have had dispensation from the Grand Master.  It is strange that the last elected Master was W.L. Ballard in 1862 and as soon as they returned from the war McCollough was again Master of the Lodge.  Robert and James could have been initiated in Tumbling Shoals Lodge, which was chartered about 1868 but went defunct after a few years.  There are a lot of Terrys, Rices, Harrisons, and Sullivans on the membership rolls of Ornan Lodge, also a Col. Robert E. Arnold who was also in the Confederate service.  He is buried  at Columbia Baptist Cemetery, as is Robert Scott.