I wish you could have been with us a couple of weeks ago in New Point, Salt Creek Township, talking with George Metz Jr., Don Schilling and Dan Doles. We met in the Masonic Lodge. Loads of history in that building. Of the six lodges that were in Decatur County at one time in addition to the Greensburg Lodge, only three are still going: Westport, New Point and Greensburg. New Point has about 35 members.
The New Point Lodge received its charter on May 29, 1860, and it is still active. That Lodge actually began in New Pennington in Saltcreek Township when seven men applied to the next meeting of the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to open a Lodge of Master Masons at New Pennington. It was granted on October 7, 1858. The seven men were: David G. Pulse, Wilson Ross, Joel Colson, John and Joel Pennington, Milton B. Walker and Edward Paramore.
The New Pennington Lodge met at 7 p.m. from March to September and at 6 p.m. from September to February on Friday on or before the full moon at New Pennington. Dues were 8 1/2 cents per month, and after being initiated, passed or raised they were required to pay $1 to help with expenses. That first Lodge at New Pennington was located on the southeast corner of roads 400 South and 850 East.
But the membership didn’t grow. New Pennington, a very small community, was two miles south of New Point (New Point was called Crackaway at the time), so it was decided that it would be better to move it to New Point, a larger town with more residents. They decided to build a building that could be used for another group and the second floor the Masonic Hall.
The building was completed in 1861 (the date is carved into the building on a white stone. and is the brick, two-story building that you see on the corner of Main and Kalb). The first floor was used as a school and the second floor was the Masonic Lodge. It was built for $1,000 and paid for by the school system and the Masons. It is still being used by the New Point #255 F&AM with the first floor now being used as the social room.
I learned some delightful bits of history while talking with the men. There are pictures of all of the Grand Masters on the wall of the Social Hall. John Peters, who was the subject of this column a couple of weeks ago, is the oldest member. John Castor was Master 21 times. Civil War Union Brigadier General John McQuiston was a member and Grand Master at one time. One man, Robert Ross, was a veteran of the War of 1812.
Greensburg was the first to establish a Masonic Lodge here. But, according to Harding’s History of the county, written in 1915, there have been several others even though only three remain active now. Other towns in the county have had Lodges at one time. Those include: Milford #94; Clarksburg # 124; Westport # 52,; New Point # 255,; Adams # 269; and Alert # 305. I imagine, but don’t know, that transportation had a lot to do with it when they closed. The New Point Masonic Lodge is not the oldest charter in Indiana, but it is the oldest Masonic Lodge still in use.
What the members want to do is to have that building put on the National Register of Historic Places; it surely will be accepted. In September, a Past Grand Master from Evansville is coming to help the members in getting the building registered. I have heard that it takes a long time to get it done. It will probably not be the easiest thing they’ve ever done. Most of us have seen a lot of history and we know that a historical building can tell us a lot about our past. We should always hope that history won’t be discarded.