The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Leaf River Masonic Lodge, No. 19 Records
Collection Number: M 407
Dates: 1858-1907; 1963
Volume: .25 cu. ft.
Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.
Information on the history of the Leaf River Masonic Lodge is scant, but some old Masonic texts yielded answers about the early years of Lodge No. 19 and Freemasonry’s spread in Mississippi. The Grand Lodge of Mississippi formed in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1818, and Natchez was also the site of the first Masonic lodge in Mississippi, Harmony Lodge (chartered in 1802 by the Grand Lodge of Kentucky).
The Leaf River Masonic Lodge began work under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons in 1829. After reviewing the progress of Leaf River, the Grand Lodge of Mississippi granted the lodge a charter in February 1830. The charter records the names of its eight officers and three members. The lodge was based in south Jones County and north Perry County (currently Forrest County). The first meeting took place in Augusta, Mississippi, but the meetings moved to Monroe, Mississippi, later. For the first few years, regular communications took place in the home of the lodge’s Worshipful Master, J. J. H. Morris.
In 1834, Leaf River Lodge No. 19 was suspended by the Grand Lodge for failure to make their annual dues and returns. This lack of reporting continued, and in 1835 the Grand Lodge asked Leaf River to surrender its charter. At the Grand Communication in 1837, representatives of Lodge No. 19 asked that their charter be reinstated. At this point, the members of Leaf River Lodge asked for the Grand Lodge’s permission to move from Monroe, Mississippi, to Williamsburg, Mississippi. However, the Grand Lodge did not grant them permission to move. At this point, Leaf River Lodge was no longer an official lodge. All of the members joined Monroe Lodge No. 39, which was chartered in March of 1839 and regularly met in the Masonic Hall in Monroe, Mississippi. At the Grand Communication of 1846, representatives to the Grand Lodge declared Lodge No. 39 the natural successor of Leaf River Lodge, because it was composed of the same members. The Grand Lodge ordered that all of the property of the Leaf River Lodge be transferred to Monroe Lodge No. 39. In the year 1848, lodge No. 39 met in Perry County, Mississippi, (five miles west of Monroe, Mississippi). At the Grand Communication of 1856, a representative suggested that Monroe Lodge No. 39 change its name back to Leaf River, possibly because there were two lodges using the name “Monroe” at the time. Leaf River Lodge’s charter was reinstated that year.
By that time, Freemasonry had spread widely in Mississippi. When Leaf River first received its charter in 1830, only about 15 lodges existed. By 1856, 200 Masonic lodges existed in the state.
Contents of the collection.
Freemasons. Grand Lodge of Virginia. Free Masonry and the war [microform] : report of the committee under the resolutions of 1862, Grand Lodge of Virginia, in reference to our relations as Masonic bodies and as Masons, in the North and South, growing out of the manner in which the present war has been prosecuted. Richmond, VA: Chas. M. Wynne. (1865). Z124. 5 .C7 Cook, Reading Room
Freemasons. Leaf River Lodge. Leaf River Lodge Journal [microform]. (1829-1858). HS539. A8323 1829 Cook, Reading Room
Freemasons. Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi. The Proceedings of the Grand lodge, F. & A. M. of the state of Mississippi (1818-1914): embracing addresses of the grand masters, decisions of the Grand lodge on all Masonic questions pertaining to the grand jurisdiction, reports of the most important committees, etc. Atlanta, GA: Foote & Davies.(1914). HS537. M7 A19 McCain, Brooks Reading Room
Freemasons. Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi. Proceedings of the M. W. Grand lodge, F. & A. M. at the Grand Annual Communication. Jackson, Miss: Purdom & Jones. (1856). HS537. M7 A2 1856 McCain, Brooks Reading Room
This collection consists of a ledger containing handwritten minutes of the meetings of the Leaf River Masonic Lodge No. 19 from 1858 to 1907. The minutes contained therein record names of members, names of officers, payment of dues, and other lodge business. Also included are three loose items found in the ledger, and a photocopy of an obituary attached to page 431 of the ledger. Inclusive dates of these items are ca. 1861 - 1963.