© Liberty Lodge #31 F & A M

Liberty Lodge #31

Ancient Free and Accepted Masons


10 E. Franklin St. Liberty, MO  64068 (816) 781-3775

The year 1930 ushered in the era of the Great Depression which after ten years is still with us, though in a modified degree. This period witnessed the greatest upheaval in its economic and social life that this nation has ever experienced, and it is not surprising to find this condition reflected in the records of the lodge.

In 1932 a letter from Grand Master Thad. B. Landon was read in open lodge. This letter was addressed to all subordinate lodges and was designed to encourage the membership. One year later the Grand Lodge passed laws providing (l) the delinquent per capita tax when paid to go to the Welfare Commission;(2) the per capita tax due January 7, 1934, to be $1.50 instead of $2.10; (3) the $10.00 of the initiation fee for the Masonic Home and the $1.00 fee for the Washington Memorial to be discontinued for one year.

In 1934, because of the hard times, the lodge reduced the fees for the degrees to $30.00.

About this time the Grand Lodge again came to the help of the lodges by requiring each one to appoint a budget committee to submit to the lodge in January each year an estimate of the yearly income and against that to budget the anticipated expenses. When this budget was adopted it formed the maximums limit beyond which the lodge could not go without the consent of the Grand Master. This was a wise law and probably kept many lodges from serious financial involvement. Liberty Lodge took it seriously and carefully studied each budget before adopting. In spite of this, however, situations arose for which the budget made no provisions, but in such emergencies the Grand Master was always helpful.

Through all this time of depression and hardship and many calls for relief both in and out of the lodge the officers carried on faithfully and the lodge met all obligations both moral and financial.

Early in 1930 there is the first mention of the Order of DeMolay, an organization of junior sons of Master Masons under the sponsorship of the Royal Arch Chapter. This notice was the receipt of $44.75, the proceeds of a basket-ball (sic) game played between the DeMolays and some members of Liberty Lodge No. 31.

Then in 1939 the Eastern Star Chapter asked for the use of the hall to organize a chapter of the Order of the Rainbow. This order does for the daughters of Masons what the DeMolay does for their sons, and is sponsored by the O.E.S.

On January 12, 1931, Bro. J. H. Tarrants, his wife and son, J. E. Tarrants, were severely burned at their home and the lodge took prompt steps for their relief. Both of these brethren were Past Masters, constant in attendance at the meetings of the lodge and able, and always willing, to help with the work. Bro. J. H. Tarrants died March 30, 1931.

February 8,1932, Bro. J. F. DeBerry presented to the lodge a bookcase to be used as the lodge might direct. Bro. DeBerry was at this time probably the oldest member of the lodge. He served as Master in 1 886 and was secretary for 16 consecutive years, 191 0 to 1925. He was an invalid for several years and died August 24, 1933.

On February 11, 1936, there came the death of Bro. F. H. Trimble who was considered one of the most useful members of the lodge. For almost 50 years he was an active Mason serving in all the stations (W M. in 1897) and on innumerable committees. He knew the ritual perfectly and was always ready to help when called on. He was the only member of the Liberty Lodge in all its history to go through all the chairs in one of the Grand Masonic bodies of the State of Missouri. He was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons in 1910.

January 25, 1937, the lodge contributed to the Red Cross for the relief of flood victims in the Ohio River Valley. This was probably the worst flood ever to afflict that region and caused tremendous financial loss and much physical suffering.

In this year the Congress of the United States appointed a commission to arrange for a nationwide observance of the sesquicentennial of the adoption of the Constitution, and the lodge, responding to a request from the chairman of the commission, voted to cooperate.

On the evening of November 8th the lodge enjoyed one of those delightful occasions which have so often graced its meetings. This was a turkey dinner with all the garnishments given by the ladies of the Eastern Star.

December 13, 1937, in the matter of the Missouri Sales Tax the option was given that, not being a domestic, commercial or industrial concern, the lodge need not pay tax on the use of water, gas or electricity, but was liable for tax on telephone service.

In June, 1939, there came another request to lay a cornerstone. The request was from the Liberty School Board and the building was the new Elementary School at Mill, Gallatin and Prairie Streets. This ceremony was performed by Grand Master Henry C. Chiles assisted by the brethren of the lodge in a most impressive manner.

In May of this year the lodge received a communication from White Mountain Lodge No. 3, Globe, Arizona, stating that a man calling himself Capt. Chas. J. Starner and claiming membership in this lodge, had worked a fraudulent scheme on merchants of Globe. The secretary was instructed to advise the Arizona lodge that this man had never been a member here nor was he known in Liberty. One month later this same man was reported by the Columbia, Tennessee, lodge and the Masonic Relief Association notified this lodge they would publish a warning of this fraud in the next issue of their Bulletin. This was done and the lodge heard no more complaints.

October 9, 1939, the Chapter gave to the lodge a Bible for the Altar with this inscription written on the fly leaf' "This Bible was presented to Liberty Lodge No. 31 A.F. & A.M. on October 9, 1939, A.D., by Liberty Chapter No. 3, R.A.M., in order that the Bible now in use which has been in constant use since the lodge was chartered in October 9, 1g40, might be placed in a vault for safe preservation." The new Bible was immediately put into service and the old one was placed in the archives of the lodge with other historic tools and implements of the craft.

The historical committee reported that the records of the lodge were complete except for the years 1849 to 1854 and asked the secretary to write the Grand secretary for copies of any records of those years the Grand Lodge has in its files. The Grand Secretary sent copies of Grand Lodge reports from this lodge for those years showing lists of officers and members together with all changes in membership. These copies were filed with the other records of the lodge.

At the close of 1939 the lodge realizing it was rounding out 100 years of existence and that October 9,1940, would be the l00th anniversary of its founding, voted that the present Worshipful Master D A. Sharp and the worshipful Master elect for 1940, Bro. Jean Paul Bryan, be authorized to appoint a committee of 25 to arrange a fitting celebration. This committee was composed of Brethren Oren I. Moore, chairman, Chas. A. McConn, M. L. Lightburne, J. J. Bowman, F. H. Mathews, H. J. Alexander, R. E. Sevier, A. M. Tutt, J. S. Morrow, Burton Maltby, J. J. Barkley, N. S. McDonald, Edgar Archer, Tom Wornall, Jr., W. C. Crawford, Alan F. Wherritt, Gilbert Pence, w. E. Barnes, Chas. H. Witthaus, R. F. Mason, C. W. Carpenter, E. O. Boggess, Geo. R. Crockett, M. J. Waers, M. S. Coleman, E. R. Sumpter, A. H. Mms, and D. A. Sharp.

This committee immediately entered upon the discharge of its duties, appointed sub-committees and eventually produced the program we are now enjoying.

When Liberty Lodge No. 31 came into existence 100 years ago its tangible assets were ten members, a birth certificate, a borrowed hall and a far horizon. But the intangible things of life are ever the more important. The beautiful system of morals with its cardinal virtues, temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, its tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth, its unfeigned belief in the one living and true God, which we call Freemasonry was an asset of the lodge far surpassing size of membership or imposing temples or stocks or bonds. And so we measure the achievements of the first 100 years in deeds of charity, in the healing of quarrels between brethren, in acts of patriotism and in participation in every enterprise that makes for civic righteousness. The record of the lodge in these things constitutes a glorious heritage for us.

Today we enter the second 100 years far richer than our fathers were in 1840. We now have 160 members, a hall of our own, a building fund of respectable size which is being wisely handled, a good name in the community and peace and harmony among the brethren.

And then we have inspiring traditions which our fathers did not have. There are names that are traditions in themselves. Since the beginning the Lightburne name has had a place on the lodge roll and since 1843 the name of Dougherty has appeared with unbroken regularity.

Such names as Spence, Coleman, Hughes, Miller, Edwards, Adkins, Corbin, Brassfield, Garlisch, Atchison, Wilson, Sublette, Calhoun, Allen, Hardwick, Morton, and a host of others, bring to mind bright pages of history and testify to the high standing of the lodge through the years. Bro. L. B. Dougherty was treasurer from I 875 till his death in 1925, a period of 50 years. For 65 years the lodge has had only three treasurers, Bro. Dougherty, Bro. W. C. Crawford, and Bro. W. E. Barnes.

In the last 40 years there have been four secretaries, Bro. A. M. Tutt, Bro. R W. Stogdale, Bro. J. F. DeBerry, and Bro. Edgar Archer, who is now finishing his sixteenth consecutive year.

Since 1894 the custom of rotation in the stations has prevailed and there has been only one break in the regular succession. This custom has provided for an adequate supply of Past Masters for any emergency. There are now thirty-one living Past Masters, the oldest being Bro. Geo. E. Tutt, now living in Fulton, Missouri. Twenty-six are living in Liberty the senior one of these being Bro. F. H. Mathews.

In point of continuous membership, Bro. J. C. Simmons is the oldest mason in the lodge. He was Raised April 15, 1882.

Once more the lodge is facing the far horizon. It beckons us as it did our fathers 100 years ago. It challenges us to make a better record than they have made. We can do it if we will.

And as we think about the future let us offer a prayer for our unfortunate brethren in Europe. There is not a nation in that unhappy continent, save possibly brave little Switzerland and that piece of Turkey lying west of the Dardanelles, where Freemasons can meet and work (sic). Freemasonry cannot live where injustice and intolerance prevail and no dictator's heart can harbor brotherly love and truth.

And let us give thanks to the Supreme Architect of the Universe that He has cast our lot in a free land and determine in our hearts that we will defend it to the last trench against both the moth that corrupts and the thief that breaks through and steals.

FROM 1930 TO 1940


Original Charter