HISTORY OF MIDLAND LODGE #144 F&AM
The city of Columbus was founded. It was the last planned city of the original 13 Colonies. The township of Ellerslie was established 18 miles from Columbus around the intersection of the stagecoach route of the Alabama and Talbotton Roads. The stagecoach line was owned by George W. Evans of Talbotton and was known at the time as the “Old Wire Road.” A post office was authorized for Ellerslie on August 4, 1828 and Charles Philips named Postmaster – the Post Office has been in continuous service since that date.
Richard Christmas arrived and established a home near the County Line Road entryway to Liberty Hall subdivision. The historical marker placed near the entrance to the subdivision reads: “Richard Christmas 1763”.
As a community, Midland was established with the arrival of Edmund Jenkins, his wife Mary, and a son, Sterling from Jasper County, Georgia. It began in the vicinity of what is now Garrett and Warm Springs Road. Upon seeing this area Mary Jenkins was known to have said, “Here we will raise our families, and bury our dead on that hill.”
The Jenkins’ Cemetery is located on the west side of Warm Springs Road occupying a lot in the new subdivision just north of Midland Methodist Church and a quarter mile south of the Harris county line. Six generations of the Jenkin’s Family rest in this cemetery.
The decedents of Edmund Jenkins have played important roles in the development of the Midland Community, the Midland Masonic Lodge, and the Midland Methodist Church.
While living then in Green county, Georgia, he drew a land lot in what is presently called Harris county in the land lot of 1827 and moved here before 1835. He then made his home to the Northeast of County Line Road. Richard Christmas was a veteran of the North Carolina Militia in the American Revolution and a marker honoring his military service was placed on his grave (by the Button Gwinnett Chapter D. A. R. with special ceremonies in February of 1929). He is buried here with his wife, Mary, his son, Nathaniel G. Christmas, and other decedents.
Kimbrough Lodge No. 118, Cataula, Georgia was chartered on October 19. 1850. Not long afterwards, a group of Freemasons residing in the Ellerslie area were desirous of forming a Masonic Lodge closer to their own homes. Accordingly, a dispensation for a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. The Lodge Officers prior to the time of charter were John F. Cone, WM, Silas M Grubbs, SW, and William Howard, JW.
Ellerslie Lodge No. 144 was chartered on October 29, 1851 by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F&AM, of the State of Georgia, William C. Dawson, Grand Master. According to Grand Lodge records the new Lodge consisted of (34) Master Masons, (2) Fellow Craft Masons, and (1) Entered Apprentice Mason. The Lodge officers of 1851 were T. P. Park – WM, Silas M. Grubbs – SW, John F. Cone – JW, Thomas M. Clower – Treasurer, Thomas P. Redding – Secretary, William T. Darley – SD, Oscar V. Brown – JD, and John H. Parham – Tyler.
The Lodge owned a two-story wood building on the Northeast corner of what is now Highways 85 and 315 E. just below the existing cemetery. The Lodge occupied the upstairs of the wooden structure and the warehouse & store space downstairs was rented, typically for fifty dollars a month.
The by-laws of 1851 indicate that meetings were to be held on the first Friday and third Saturday of each month at 2:00 PM. The entrance or admission fee for Masonic memberships was one dollar.
Fees for Degrees were:
Entered Apprentice $ 7.00
Fellow Craft $ 5.00
Master Mason $ 8.00
Each member was required to contribute 25 cents (quarterly) for use of the Lodge. Any member who refused or failed to make his contribution lost his voting entitlement after one year with suspension following after two years in arrears.
1861- 1865 THE CIVIL WAR YEARS
The City of Columbus, Georgia, founded in 1828, was the last planned city of the original colonies. By being located deep inside the confederacy and already a thriving industrial center it became second in importance only to Richmond, Virginia for war related industries. The Columbus Iron Works was a major contributor early on for ammunition and weaponry and was later noted for maritime machinery. The local textile industry also contributed uniforms, knapsacks, harnesses, sabers, saddles, bridles, and artillery pieces. The Eagle Manufacturing Company out-produced all others in tents, shoes, uniforms, sheets, and food supplies.
The conflict known as the War of Rebellion, The War between the States, or simply, the Civil War, was fought (1861 – 1865) more than a century ago. Yet the interest in the events and stories of the many personalities concerned have never lessened. Many people find this hard to believe – especially a war that overshadows those of more modern times. Regardless of their reasons for fighting, reasons deeply felt, they fought a war with mechanized transport, automatic weapons, ironclad warships, submarines, and military aviation (balloons) with a vengeance and total warfare. The war was pictorially recorded by Mathew B. Brady and his associates. They published the “Photographic History of the Civil War” in several volumes and its pictorial history will continue to serve for generations as a visual reminder of the struggle. Freemasons endeavored to prevent the struggle, and when they proved unsuccessful, did all they could to ease difficulties and suffering for all involved. Members were highest in command of all armies, held political posts and headed the humanitarian agencies.
Both the Northern and Southern Grand Lodges jointly stressed to the Brotherhood that Masonry was more important than the politics of the day. Thus Masonry was a house undivided throughout the war – that house was never divided, and remains a house undivided.
One of the most noted local military units was the Columbus Guards and was organized in 1835. It was later commanded by Col. Paul A. Semmes, during the Civil War, and was one of the best drilled units in the nation. Their display of skills of fancy drills was considered to be adequate training for the upcoming war. They performed at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, participated in some thirty battles, and was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. It surrendered with two officers and eleven men.
Locally a number of personnel from the West Georgia area, including Freemasons were not only members of the Columbus Guards, but comprised the bulk of personnel for the 2nd and 20th Georgia Infantry commanded by Freemason Brigadier General Robert A. Toombs, from Wilkes County, Georgia. The units distinguished themselves in 1862 at Antietam, Virginia during the battle dubbed, “Burnsides Bridge”. The professionalism of the Confederate forces enabled 300 individuals to hold the bridge from crossing by Union General Burnside’s IX Corps operating as an element of Freemason General George B. McClellan’ s Army of the Potomac, until reinforced by Confederate forces commanded by General A. P. Hill. Thus preserving General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia’s route to withdrawal south after having invaded Northern territory. The battle of Antietam was the high water mark of the Confederate Army.
The Southern States began to rebuild as soon as the war ended. But rebuilding was difficult. Only President Andrew Johnson, a Mason, and member of Greenville Lodge No. 119, Tennessee, stood between a political force determined to extract vengeance and total subjugation of the Southern States. He was opposed by the anti-Masonic, anti-slavery impeachment force of the political faction lead by Thaddeus Stevens. A time of carpetbaggers and scalawags prevailed. Somehow Masonry managed to play an important part in the reconstruction as both the Northern and Southern Grand Lodges placed their houses in order.
Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Mason and member of Angerona Lodge No. 168, Tennessee, organized an “invisible empire” and assumed the role of Grand wizard of an organization titled KU KLUX KLAN. The initial effort of the organization was to subdue civil disobedience and offset the corrupt state legislatures. However, the concept failed to work. General Forrest resigned from both the Klan and Masonry and returned to a quieter life.
The Georgia Midland and Gulf Railroad was constructed through the area and the name Midland was adopted by the community, and subsequently by the Methodist Church, Post Office and Masonic Lodge. The railroad ran from Columbus through Griffin to McDonough, Georgia.
A wood structure was raised and named Midland Methodist Church. The prime mover behind this endeavor was a son of Sterling Jenkins, the son of Edmund and Mary Jenkins. His name was Alonzo Issac (A. I.) Jenkins. He listed the name of each contributor on three sheets of legal paper. Sums donated ranged from ten cents ($.10) from a four-year-old boy to fifty dollars ($50.00). A sum of five hundred dollars ($500.00) was raised. These original sheets have been framed and placed on the rear wall of the church sanctuary. In addition to the fund drive A. I. And his brothers U. U. and F. T. donated the land for the new Church. The present brick church Incorporates the original wooden structure less the wood veranda porch that once extended across the front of the structure.
A Baptist church, Bethesda, was located two miles East of the intersection of now Highways 315 E and 85 at Ellerslie. After the church had been destroyed by a cyclone (tornado?) the elders approached Ellerslie Masonic Lodge for a gift of a lot for the purpose of erecting a church. This request was honored and a quarter acre lot adjacent to the Lodge was deeded to Bethesda Baptist Church. A clause in the deed stated that the lot was be used for church purposes, and if the lot ceased to be used for church purposes then said lot would revert to Ellerslie Masonic Lodge. The deed is recorded in Book ‘R’, Harris County, and dated January 5, 1895 by Justice of the Peace George A. Redding, a member of Ellerslie Masonic Lodge.
Annual Lodge dues were $3.00 per member during this period.
Ellerslie Masonic Lodge No. 144 F&AM moved to Midland, Georgia and occupied the second floor of the newly erected brick Lodge/mercantile store, building at the corner of Garrett and County Line Roads. Alonzo I. Jenkins was W.M.
The Grand Lodge of Georgia changed the name of the Lodge at its annual communication, as requested, from Ellerslie to Midland.
Dr. Seaborn E. Young was W.M. during this period. He was a community doctor and a strong supporter of Midland Methodist Church.
The Midland Methodist Church underwent a brick renovation that exists to this date. The Church building committee consisted of; Mr. E. A. Jackson, Dr. S. E. Young, A. W. Jenkins and William T, McKee who were all members of Midland Lodge No. 144 F&AM.
The Lodge, on October 7, 1943, established that its regular communication would be on the first and third Thursday of each month at 7:30 PM.
William Phillip Johnson was elected secretary of the Lodge on December 19, 1946. This distinguished 33rd degree Mason served continuously until his death, January 1992 – 46 years in this capacity.
Midland Lodge No. 144 F&AM Celebrated its 100th year, October 6, 1951. The Grand Master of all Masons in the state of Georgia, and the Grand Secretary, Dan Locklin, were principal guests. Grand Master, Marvin G. Pound addressed the Brethren, their wives, widows and guests.
Midland Masonic Lodge purchased the ground floor of the Lodge building on December 22, 1952. A conversion from a store room to a kitchen/dining hall was accomplished by the Brethren. Brother J. T. Parker was chief architect and supervisor of the work. Assisting principally in the renovations were Brothers Earl Denson, Wm. P. Johnson, E. W. Miller, Jake Taylor and Dan R. Watson.
Daniel R. Watson was elected Treasurer of the Lodge on December 17, 1953 and served until his death. He is remembered as the best loved and the longest serving officer in the history of Midland Lodge No. 144.
Midland Masonic Lodge No. 144 F&AM recognized its 144th continuous year as a Masonic Lodge. October 29, 1955.
A Warrant issued on November 28, 1964, authorizing a charter from the Grand Court of Amaranth to Midland Court No. 20 was granted by Marjorie E. Davis, Grand Royal Matron and Kermit E Clonts Grand Royal Patron, State of Georgia. Mrs. Madeline C. Caldwell, Royal Matron, and Mr. Murray L. Whipple, Royal Patron, were elected honorees with Delany B. Woodridge, Associate Matron, and T. W. Caldwell, Associate Patron. A total of 39 individuals constituted the Court.
Midland Masonic Lodge No. 144 F&AM. hosted the Grand Lodge of Georgia at the celebration of a corner stone rededication recognizing the 150th year of continuous service on October 27, 2001. The Grand Master of Masons, State of Georgia, Buster Horne, presided. Roger Buterbaugh was WM of lodge at time.