Some Masonic History

--- (written by Wm Lake, Sr.)

The first Masonic funeral ever held in Clinton was in the fall of 1858, when Bro. J. House of Geneva Lodge #139 died. He was foreman of the railroad blacksmith shop in this city. Western Star Lodge No. 100, struggled along with varying success until 1861 bearing its load of debt but gradually decreasing it, but the guns of Sumpter announced the opening of the lodge met and passed resolutions of loyalty to the government of our country and while condemning the acts of our brethren in the south in taking up arms against our government, yet, with that mantle of Charity which should ever cover every Masonic act, they looked upon those acts with pitying eye, not in anger, as being the acts of misguided men influenced by the surrounding among which they had been brought up. Several of our members went into the service of the government during the war:

  • Bro. N. P. Barker, adjutant general of Iowa;
  • Bro. J. T. van Deventer, quartermaster;
  • Bro. E. S. Bailey, Paymaster;
  • Bro. O. D. Kinsman, lieutenant in the infantry;
  • Bro. E. P. Tenbroeck, colonel 6th Iowa cavalry;
  • Bro. G. H. Noyes, regimental surgeon;
  • Bro. G.F. Lovejoy, lieutenant of artillery;
  • Bro. Frank Market, 6th Iowa and
  • Bro. Wm Lake, on military railroads, and some others, whose names the writer does not recall.

In 1893 Western Star lodge No. 100, finished paying up its debt and entered upon a season of prosperity which lasted until about 1881, when it began to go down hill again and things got to a pretty low ebb, until 1894, there was a revival Western Star began to go up again and got out of debt once more. In 1896 Western Star celebrated its 40th anniversary.

On December 28, 1868 a petition was presented to Western Star lodge by Bro. P. J. Farnsworth and others for a recommendation to the Grand Lodge to grant a new lodge in Clinton, which was granted and Emulation Lodge #255 was organized under dispensation in January 1869.

A majority of the members of Western Star lodge at that time were railway employees and some of the citizens of Clinton thought the railway men run things their own way too much and organized Emulation lodge which at that time composed of brethren who were not railway men by occupation. For a while Emulation lodge went ahead of Western Star in the number of its members and in financial prosperity, as the people in this country always run after a new thing, but old Western Star in the last ten years has taken on a new lease of life and is up neck and neck with Emulation in number of its members and in its finances, and now my brethren, in our prosperity don't let us forget that we have been in adversity and get into extravagant habits and squander our finances, but let us husband our resources against the day of adversity, for this prosperity of our country will be followed by a season of adversity as surely as night follows the day. It has always been be so in the world's history since the seven years of famine in Egypt followed the seven years of plenty; let us therefore like Joseph did at the time husband our resources to meet the time of adversity.

The writer has been a member of Western Star from almost its beginning and shared in its ups and downs, its prosperity and adversity and while he is unable to recall many incidents in the fife of the lodge which might be of interest to you he hopes to be permitted to enjoy with you the 50th anniversary of the lodge. His connection with Western Star for so many years has endeared Western Star to his memory and he most earnestly hopes the prosperity which it now enjoys may long continue when a hundred years are gone and that brotherly love may prevail and that every moral virtue cement us.

"It may interest some of you to know how Western Star lodge got its name. At the time when Western Star lodge got its name, Clinton was a city of great expectations and I was assured by people on every hand that Clinton would be a city of 100,000 inhabitants in five years so as you all remember that saying that "Westward the Star of Empire takes its way" the promoters came to the conclusion that the Star of Empire was then hovering over Clinton, so they named the lodge 'Western Star'"