History of Shekinah Lodge No. 256

The History of Shekinah Lodge # 256, A.F. & A.M. December 6, 1867 to December 10, 1967 Our Lodge is fortunate to have the first minute book showing the records of the first meeting, and other important records. The Lodge began work on December 6, A.D. 1867. Brother John L. Thomas, Past Master of Joachim Lodge No.164 A.F. & A.M. having been appointed by the Grand Master of the Grand lodge of the State of Missouri, caused the secretary to read the dispensation granted by the Grand Lodge and said Bro. Thomas set the Lodge to work under said dispensation.

The following officers were chosen: W. S. Post as Worshipful Master; Bro. C. G. Warne, Senior Warden; Bro. C. F. Lee, Junior Warden; Bro. J. M. Bailey, Treasurer; Bro. J. N. McNutt, Senior Deacon; Bro. S. W. Crawford, Junior Deacon; Bro. John Wiatt, Tiler. The names of charter members appear elsewhere in this program.

The Lodge worked under the dispensation until November 11, 1868, and charter was issued October 15, A.D. 1868. From October 15, 1868, Shekinah Lodge #256 has labored through the years to the present date. The Lodge has grown and prospered with the progress of the community. Men in all walks of life have been proud to be counted as members.

Shekinah Lodge #256 has from the years of working "under dispensation" to the present time, met in the following places: The first meeting was held in a frame building at Hanover, Mo. That area is now named "Bailey Station", and is about one mile from the western boundary of Festus.

It appears as if most of the charter members were farmers and lived near enough to ride horseback or in a horsedrawn buggy to the hall. This building was used for most of the public affairs of the community, and the members were leaders in the development of the schools, churches, businesses and social life of the citizens. The towns of Festus and Crystal City began to grow with the location of the glass factory (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) in Crystal City and farmers became prosperous because of the increased population.

These and other reasons caused the lodge to consider moving to Festus. The records show that the lodge voted to lease "quarters" for meeting in the John Johnson Bldg., located at the southwest corner of Main and Mill Streets. This was a two story building, the first floor being used as a blacksmith shop. The rental for this meeting place was $10.00 per month.

While meeting in the Johnson Building the lodge bought a lot on Main Street numbered 110 Main Street, where a two-story building was erected. The purchase price for this lot was $350.00. The cornerstone for this building was laid on October 06, 1894. and the minutes of the meeting dated May 18, 1895 showed total cost of the building to be $5521.02.

With increasing membership and a need for modern facilities it was decided to sell the building, rather than remodel.

The building committee recommended purchase of the lots in Crystal City, where our new temple is erected. A large number of our member are expert operating masons and they have rendered a free and voluntary service, the value of which is exceedingly high.

The spirit shown in this application to the project is one for which the lodge will be ever grateful. A true example of brethren working together in unity.

The cornerstone laying for this temple was held Sunday, December 10, 1967. Our Lodge held the first meeting in the new temple on April 23, 1968.

The preceding account was taken from the program for the commemoration of the One Hundredth Year of Shekinah Lodge #256. There was an "open house" from 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. At 1:30 P.M. there were two third degrees. The first conferred by the past masters of the lodge and the second by brethren of the 40th Masonic District. Dinner was provided by the Eastern Star, chapter #417 at 6:00 P.M. The festivities continued with music by Mrs. Dorothy Curtis, invocation by Bro. Dr. George Hammon, welcome remarks by Wor, Bro. Arch McGougan, a magic act by Bro. Louis Gehrs, Historical remarks by Wor. Bro. Emil Santschi, vocal selections, and the address by Most Worshipful Dr. Harold O. Grauel, Past Grand Master. The benediction was given by Bro. Rev. Bill McConn to conclude the ceremonies.

Submitted by Don Ponzar, Worshipful Master 2005, Shekinah Lodge #256 Member Missouri Lodge of Research

What's in a name...

So, what does "Shekinah" mean?

Shekinah is the "Divine Presence" of God, and is also seen as the feminine aspect of Deity in the Hebrew religion. In Kabbalistic lore, the Shekinah represented the physical manifestation of God: the Shekinah was said to rest on or in Holy Sites, such as the Holy of Holies within the Temple.
The Shekhinah in the New Testament is commonly equated to the presence or indwelling of the Spirit of the Lord (generally referred to as the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ) in the believer, drawing parallels to the presence of God in Solomon's Temple.

As Freemasons, we have a special connection to King Solomon's Temple. The wise brothers of our Lodge back in 1868 chose a name to exemplify that connection.

A tale of two Cities

Crystal City and Festus, the Missouri Twin Cities

In 1843, a Michigan company conducted a search to find land with valuable minerals in Missouri. Mineralogist and geologist Forrest Shepherd located silica sand on the east side of Plattin Creek in 1868. Silica samples analyzed in England were determined to be of superior quality suitable for glass manufacturing. Captain Ebenezer B. Ward of Detroit founded the American Plate Glass Company in a Mississippi River town he called New Detroit.

The months before glass production began were used to clear away brush and build homes for employees and their families who would be moving to New Detroit to work and live. In 1877, the glass plant was sold to Crystal Plate Glass Company of St. Louis. As the town grew and the reputation for glass production spread, it was decided to change the name to Crystal City.

Crystal Plate Glass exercised complete control over its land and buildings. No saloons, non-employee homes or private enterprises were allowed to exist. As a result, a new community beyond Crystal City borders was established; first called Limitsville later Tanglefoot. As the new town developed, residents wished to have a more dignified name for their city when it was platted. Legend says that Elizabeth Posch, local business owner, opened her Bible and declared that the first proper name that she would come upon would be Tanglefoot's new name. The name was Festus for Acts 25:1.

On February 8, 1887 a petition was presented to the Jefferson County Court and the city of Festus became incorporated. With a population of only a few hundred, the Festus residents were dependent upon the glass plant for their livelihood. In just a few short years, Festus' population grew to over 1,000 and new businesses flourished.

In 1895, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, later known as PPG Industries acquired the factory, town and holdings. Crystal City remained a company town until 1906, when private citizens were first allowed to purchase building lots. (PPG Industries was a major area employer for almost 100 years.)

Crystal City and Festus, the Missouri Twin Cities, after long ago leaving company town roots behind, have entered the new millennium with the perfect blend of proud tradition and cutting edge technology.