Masonic Organizations/Fraternities


Masonic organizations have had a definite influence on American society. Even though it is not known exactly how these organizations were developed centuries ago, a book titled A Compendium of Freemasonry in Illinois (edited by George W. Warvelle, published by the Lewis Publishing Company in 1897) attempts to explain.

Pages 1-2

"Freemasonry is, however, an ancient society, with a long and honorable record. When, where and how it originated is not known, but the consensus of opinion now seems to be that its present form is a development of the operative medieval guilds. Society in the tenth century was just emerging from the lethargy, gloom, and barbarism of the dark ages. Individual liberty, so long restrained, began to be asserted; the liberal arts, for ages, preceding the sole property of the church and confined to monastic communities, gave faint evidence of an existence among the people; and while the cloister still directed the hands of the workman, it no longer held him in its tenacious grasp. In the eleventh century the spirit of progress was still more manifest in the revival of commerce, the extension of manufactures, and the cultivation of handicrafts and about this time occurred the organization of the guilds of artificers, which were afterward to play such important parts in the political drama. In the twelfth century these guilds had spread with marvelous rapidity over the greater part of Europe, embracing nearly every trade and occupation, and from that time until the present Freemasonry in some form has been a living, potential energy in the social life of the civilized world. To the progress of the Masons’ guild upon the continent of Europe, it is unnecessary here to advert, as in time it seems to have become extinct; nor will space permit more than a passing allusion to its career in England, the birthplace of SPECULATIVE MASONRY.

From the best attainable sources of information it would seem that the principles of the operative art were derived from France, and numerous examples of medieval architecture are still extant in various parts of Great Britain, which bear upon them the names of the French masters who directed the work. In England, as upon the continent, the early policy of the Craft was shaped by the Church, under whose protecting care it flourished and waxed strong, and the titles still employed in the nomenclature of some of the officers of the lodge are directly attributable to the ecclesiastical supervision of that period."

This book, A Compendium of Freemasonry in Illinois, has interesting biographies about some of its esteemed members. Here are some "Freemasons" from Knox County:


Chester Ephraim Allen William R. Bradley, M.D.
James Louis Burkhalter Hon. James Hervey Calkins
George Anson Merrill Charles D. North
James Edward Otway


Woodmen News


Cedar Chestnut Copley Elba
Galesburg Haw Creek Henderson Indian Point
Knox Lynn Maquon Ontario
Orange Persifer Rio Salem
Sparta Truro Victoria Walnut Grove


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May 17, 2003