Leo Lodge No. 224
Free & Accepted Masons

General Historical Notes

Reprinted from a Centennial Brochure originally printed in 1959 to celebrate our "First Hundred Years"

The history of the first hundred years of Leo Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., is written in eight minutes books, which are all on hand.  Twenty-nine Secretaries recorded these minutes from which the highlights have been extracted for our edification.

    Two meetings were held prior to the receipt of the Dispensation from the Indiana Grand Lodge which authorized the formation of Leo Lodge (U.D.).  The minutes of the first two meetings do not give exact location for the meetings; however, the third meeting was held in "Mason's Hall", and was the same room which we used 100 years later.
    The first three meetings were attended by the same eight Master Masons listed below:
        Edwin L. Knight (W.M.), Jacob Brickart (S.W.), Conrad (Kuhnrod) H. Viberg (J.W.), John W. Hollowpeter (Treas.), William M. Daily (Sec.), John Dever (J.D.), Samual Mercer (J.D.) and Harmon B. Viberg (Tyler).
    The third meeting was held February 1, 1859, at which the first Master Mason Lodge was opened.  The Dispensation was received and made a part of the minutes of the meeting.  From this meeting till May 18, 1859, there were 16 meetings, during which there were 11 each Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft Degrees, and 12 Master Mason Degrees.  In addition, the ground work for the functioning of the new Lodge was organized.
    During 1859 Grand Lodge Session, a Charter dated May 24, 1859, was granted to Leo Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., and was signed By Solomon D. Bayless, Grand Master and Francis King, Grand Secretary.
    Leo Lodge No. 224 experienced a gradual growth to 61 members in 1866.  A gradual decline followed, until there were only 10 members in 1897.  Again a gradual increase in membership was experienced until 1923, when there were 90 members.  From 1923 to 1931 a gain or loss of one or two members occurred from year to year, until in 1931 there were again 90 members.   Then followed the depression years and the membership decreased to 71 in 1940.   Since 1940 the curve has been gradually up until we now have 130, our highest membership.  More than 300 Master Masons have been raised in Leo Lodge.
    Since most organizations have traditions, ours is no exception.  Since the early years of Leo Lodge, a feast has been held at the time for Installation  of Officers.  Some of the feast included 8 or ten gallons of oysters at a cost of $1.15 per gallon in 1908 and 1909 (standard grade).  This traditional feast is held each year, but is usually a potluck dinner.   Along with the traditional feast goes the public installation of the new Officers.   This was an annual New Years Day event for around 30 years.  However, with the coming of the televised Rose Parade and football games, for the past few years the feast has been held on a convenient date following New Year's Day.

OUR TEMPLE AND FURNITURE

    Our Lodge Hall is not an imposing structure of ultra-modern design and structure.  In fact, it is of frame construction, two stories and a partial basement, and is more than a 100 years old.     The first Master Mason Lodge opened after receiving the Dispensation to form a Masonic Lodge at Leo was opened in the same room we still use.
    There have been several remodeling programs during the past 100 years, some of which are quite significant.   Also, since Leo Chapter O. E. S. was chartered, we have appreciated their cooperation and assistance in the general upkeep of our Temple.
    Some of the things of interest are as follows: February 16, 1859 - Committee reported the execution of a lease for the Lodge Room for three years for $75.00 ($25.00 per year).
March 9, 1859 - Three columns purchased for $0.50 (still in use).
March 20, 1861 - Committee reported that the Lodge Building and lot could be purchased for $500.
April 24, 1861 - House Committee reported that $1,000 was sufficient to purchase a lot and build a 25 X 50 foot building with 23 ft. high walls (brick or frame construction).  The Committee was instructed to purchase the original building and complete the deal, paying $300 to confirm the deal.
December 23, 1868 - Purchased Secretary's desk for $14 (solid walnut and still in use).
During 1872 - $124 was spent on repairs.
During 1873 - $83 was spent on plastering, papering, furnishings and repairs.
January 20, 1886 - A brick wall was built under the building for a basement at a cost of $35.
May 24, 1899 - Trustees to have repairs made to Lodge room and to include an arched ceiling.  A new chimney was also built.
July 19, 1899 - Trustees authorized to sell west half of lot for $50.  However, it was later sold for $30.
January 7, 1903 - Discussed renting out the building and building a new one.  A Committee was appointed to investigate.
March 11, 1903 - After discussion, the Lodge members agreed to form a Company and build a new Lodge Hall and lease it to the Lodge for $120 per year for ten years.
April 8, 1903 - House Committee reported their progress and were ordered to continue their investigation.
August 24, 1904 - Trustees ordered to have foundation repaired.
September 21,1904 - Discussed moving the building to the south half of the lot and build new foundation.
October 19, 1904 - Proposition concerning the moving of the building tabled indefinitely.  No further record was made concerning the new building.  However, the program was never carried out.
During 1906 - Repairs were made at a cost of $96.
September 18, 1907 - Voted to build an addition to the building. However, this was not done.
September 9, 1908 - New red cedar shingle roof for $55. Also, Lodge room and furniture to be painted and varnished. (Chairs to be lamp black and emblems bronzed.) It was probably at this time when the emblems were painted on the Altar and the Stations.
No record has been found concerning the purchase of the Altar and the Stations. It is assumed they were made locally. They are solid walnut - one board wide.
March 31, 1909 - Secretary ordered to purchase "Three Roll Chart." (Still in use.)
During 1914 - A carbide gas lighting system was installed at a cost of $150.
June 23, 1915 - Purchased 50 folding chairs for $25.
During 1920 and 1921 - The building was wired for electric lights for $38.
During 1934 - The stairway was enclosed and two wardrobes, accessible from the preparation room, were built over the stairway. Members in arrears on their dues helped in this program to get their dues paid.
December 19, 1935 - Remodeled dining room for $35.
October 15, 1936 - Water pump, sink and drain installed in the kitchen.
May 5, 1938 - Lodge Hall painted and the roof and foundation repaired. Those in arrears on dues that helped, received $0.50 per hour to be credited against their dues.
May 19, 1938 - Trustees reported siding in such poor condition that repainting inadvisable.
June 17, 1943 - Lodge Room, preparation room and Tyler's room replastered at a cost of $200.
During 1945, '46, '47 - There was considerable discussion of a building program, either in the form of a new building or the enlargement of the old building. By 1949, a fund of around $500 had been accumulated. Repeated discussions were held in an effort to determine the best procedure to follow.
February 1, 1951 - Trustees were requested to make a decision on the best procedure to follow.
June 1, 1951 - Trustees suggested that the exterior of the building be covered with heavy asphalt insulation shingles. Also, that a plywood floor be laid over the floor in the Lodge Room in preparation for laying new padded carpet. Also, after further discussion, it was agreed that an oil burner would be installed in the basement to heat the lower floor and the new toilets to be installed under the stairway. Also an oil burner was installed to heat the upper floor.
During 1951 - The insulating shingles were put on the exterior at a cost of $735.
During 1952 - North half of the building was re-roofed and heating plants and toilets were installed at a cost of approximately $1,200. During this program our Eastern Star Chapter gave considerable help in the form of carpeting, a hot water heater, electric stoves and other miscellaneous items.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

Several interesting items are recorded in the minutes among which the following are listed:
May 27, 1863 - Secretary to receive a fee of $0.25 per meeting.
July 26, 1871 - Voted to exempt the Worshipful Master from payment of dues.
December 20, 1871 - Secretary ordered to get secured notes bearing 10% interest from those in arrears for dues.
January 16, 1878 - Resolution to move Leo Lodge to Spencerville. However, it failed to pass at meeting on February 13, 1878.
In 1893 there were only 5 meetings held.
August 23, 1899 - Grand Master Wm. Geake delivered an address on the laws, rules and regulations of Masonic Lodges in Indiana.
February 19, 1903 - A letter was read concerning the formation of an Eastern Star Chapter and the W.M. was ordered to get instructions and a petition. Leo Chapter No. 278, O. E. S. was chartered April 3, 1903.
October 4, 1934 - Seventy-fifth anniversary celebration.
June 17, 1937 - Our Lodge, with the help of the Eastern Star Chapter, held an ice cream social and sent proceeds to Masonic Home.
Spring of 1948 - Dining room used for 7th grade school room, due to roof having been blown off the Leo Grade School Building.
March 3, 1949 - Following the fire that destroyed the Spencerville Lodge Hall, it was proposed that they combine with Leo and Build a new Masonic Lodge Hall. This proposal was tabled indefinitely.
November 2, 1950 - Proposal made for but one Stated Meeting per month, which was approved December 7, 1950.
September 30, 1954 - 50-Year Award to George O. King, the first presentation of this award in Leo Lodge.
May 2, 1957 - Assessment of $30 paid on installation of street lights in Leo.

FINANCIAL NOTES

DUES

From 1859 to 1918 - $1.50 per year. During early years dues were due $0.75 January 1, and $0.75 June 1.
June 19, 1918 - Raised to $2.50.
January 3, 1924 - Raised to $3.50.
December 1, 1949 Raised to $5.00.
October 7, 1954 - Raised to $7.00.
November 7, 1957 - Raised to 10.00.

INITIATION FEES

From 1859 to 1865 - $15.00 (E.A. $10.00, F.C. $2.00, M.M. $3.00).
February 3, 1865 - Raised to $20.00 (E.A. $12.00, F.C. $3.00, M.M. $5.00).
January 1919 - Raised to $30.00.
July 5, 1934 - Reduced from $30.00 to $20.00 for 1 year.
October 7, 1954 - Raised to $40.00.
November 7, 1957 - Raised to $50.00.

ASSESSMENT

A per capita assessment of $3.50 was made on June 1, 1861, to apply on the purchase of the Lodge Hall.

*****

Brethren, there is the first Century of our Lodge.

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