September 14, 1996

by Victor Hovis Jr., Past Master (1964 and 1971) and Lodge Historian

This report was presented by Bro. Hovis at the September 14, 1996 meeting of the Tennessee Lodge of Research which was held at Union Lodge #38. Brother Hovis also repeated this talk when Union Lodge celebrated its 175th anniversary 3 weeks later. Shown at right is Brother Hovis (left) with Worshipful Master Tom Boduch, preparing to enter Union Lodge to deliver his talk. Later that afternoon (October 5, 1996), Brother Hovis received his 50 year pin from then Grand Master Alton E. Tollison. At the time, Brothers Hovis and Boduch were the only two living Past Masters of Union Lodge who have served twice as Worshipful Master.

This report was also printed in the 1997 TENNESSEE LODGE OF RESEARCH PROCEEDINGS. Brother Gray Hall, (Past Master TLR and Proceedings editor mentions that Bro. Hovis, was employed as an engineer for many years at the Nuclear Complex at Oak Ridge. He demonstrated his ample skills by designing the new Lodge Building for Union 38. Bro. Hovis served twice as master of Union Lodge, the last time during the 150th year celebration. He continued to be an active member of Union Lodge #38 until his death in February 2007.

In December 2011, this history was updated to include major events that have occured since 1996.

A number of months ago, I was asked by a number of members of our Lodge to see if I could write up some words about the history of our Lodge, Union Lodge No. 38, F.& A.M., of Kingston, Tennessee. This request was made in the light of the fact that on October 6th of this year, 1996, our Lodge will be privileged and honored to engage in the celebration of the one-hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary of the birth of our Lodge within the Masonic Fraternity of the United State of America. It is within this context of understanding that the following discussion is offered for your reading, consideration, and comments. Such comments and/or inputs are welcome for the purpose of adding to or correcting the accuracy of the overall discourse hereby presented.

Upon examination of the history of Union Lodge, it appears that its history should be presented in two parts. The first part is that of the Lodge itself as an organization, or entity, of men who assemble together periodically in a spirit of common understanding of the philosophies, basic principles, and ideals that permit men to enjoy good, productive, and respected lives. The second part should present the manner in which certain members of the Lodge have conducted their lives in our community in such a way that they have exemplified their adherence to the principles of our Order to the credit of themselves, their families, their community, and to Masonry in general.

When considering the history of the Lodge itself, it has been necessary to consult reference books that give information about the early years of its existence. The best book I have found is entitled “The History of Freemasonry in Tennessee, 1789 – 1943″ by Charles Albert Snodgrass, 32 , KCCH. In his book he presents the following information regarding the formation of our Lodge:

“Union Lodge No. 38 at Kingston was a mother of Lodges as Roane County was a mother of Counties, and the county, city, and Lodge all figured prominently in the early history of the State. Kingston was a military outpost in 1792, a United States Fort being established at Southwest Point, on the Tennessee River, a garrison for United State Troops until 1817, and the county claims a larger number of resident Revolutionary War Veterans than any other county in the United States. General Sevier was stationed here by Territorial Governer, William Blount, and Colonel Return J. Meigs of Revolutionary fame was stationed here for some years as Agent of the Cherokees, by appointment of President Jefferson in 1801.

Kingston was established as a town by the Legislature in 1799, and its Masonic history began with the Charter issued to Union Lodge No. 38 by Wilkins Tannehill, Grand Master, October 6, 1821, naming John Brown (Sheriff for 23 years) as W. Master; Gideon Morgan, Sr. Warden and Samuel Brown, Jr. Warden, hence it is now in its One Hundred Twenty-second year. Its meetings were held in the old brick Court House until 1854, when they occupied what was known as the “long room” in the present Court House until a lot was donated by R. K. Byrd in 1871 and the Lodge erected its own building. This, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire in 1901.

Here the Legislature met in 1807, later adjourning to Knoxville, and here Henry Liggett was still presiding as Master in 1853. He was Junior Grand Warden in 1829 and again in 1835; Senior Grand Warden in 1831 and Deputy Grand Master in 1837; also served as Scribe in Knoxville Chapter No. 6, at Knoxville.

Among the Lodges mothered by this venerable Lodge are Tennessee Lodge, 204, at Loudon, which was a part of Roane County until 1870, and six others within the present County boundaries; Stockton Valley 367, (1868); Emerald, 377, (1868); Rockwood, 403, (1870); East Fork, 460, (1874); Omega, 536, (1890); and South Gate, 569, at Harriman, 1893.”

Further examination of the book by Brother Snodgrass reveals some particular information that should be of special interest to the members of our Lodge.

There is a section in the book by Brother Snodgrass that deals with his first decade of historical information, 1813 to 1823. It describes a number of activities of our Grand Lodge and the chartering of a number of Lodges in the State. It states that in 1821 the city of Nashville was given its second Lodge by the chartering of Nashville Lodge No. 37. Three others were chartered in Tennessee, Union No. 38 of Kingston which has been a Masonic bulwark in its section through all the years, Mt. Moriah No. 39 at Dover, which later changed its name to Dover, and Washington Luminary No.42 at Washington on the banks of the Tennessee in Rhea County.

Then there is a next section of his book that he refers to as the Second Period-1824 to 1838. In this section he presents some information about the Anti-Masonic Disturbance, 1826 to 1836. In this section he says that no other disturbance in America has ever exerted so profound and disastrous effect upon Masonic progress in this Country as did the Anti-Masonic education growing out of the malicious Morgan episode during the decade immediately following the establishment of our Grand Chapter. It began in September, 1826, and attained its greatest intensity in the political campaign of 1828. Our own beloved Andrew Jackson upheld the banner of Freemasonry in the face of bitter antagonism and marched victoriously into the Presidency. In the decade that followed, hundreds of Lodges, and even Grand Lodges, closed their doors. Many of them were never opened again.

Tennessee was not immune from this disturbance. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee patiently waited until the storm subsided before taking any action against the affected Lodges. At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge in 1836 the charter of King Solomon Lodge No. 6 was surrendered to the Grand Lodge by Brother John Bell, and a report of dormant Lodges was presented for consideration by the Grand Lodge. A list of dormant lodges is given, and it includes Union Lodge No. 38 of Kingston. It says that no return had been made to the Grand Lodge since 1835. The information given in the book relates that during the next two years, efforts were made to revive these Lodges, but with little effect. At the Annual Communication of 1838, the Committee on Delinquent Lodges presented a list of Lodges that they recommended be stricken from the rolls of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. Agents were appointed to visit these Lodges and receive their jewels, furniture, etc., and return them to the Grand Lodge. That list does not include Union Lodge No. 38. We have never lost our Charter as a result of these disturbances or for any other reason. Our Charter continues to remain intact without blemish since 1821.

John Brown, the first Master of Union Lodge No. 38, was also the first Sheriff of Roane County. He moved to Roane County from Snow Hill in Greene County, N.C. in 1798.He was made a Brig. General by Andrew Jackson in 1812. He organized a Regiment of soldiers known as “The Second Regiment Mounted Gunmen” of East Tennessee. He and his soldiers went to the aid of Gen. Jackson at The Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Gen. Brown had a twin brother, Thomas, who was a Major in the War of 1812 and later became a General. Thomas Brown represented Union Lodge at the Grand Lodge in Nashville in 1821. He received the Charter for our Lodge and was a charter member. Both brothers are buried in the Kingston Cemetery.

Gideon Morgan, the first Senior Warden of our Lodge, was a prominent Kingston citizen. He enlisted in the Continental Army in New Mulford, Conn., and fought in the War of Independence. He came to Kingston, built the house now owned and occupied by the Robert N. Delaney family, and operated it as an inn for many years. He died in 1830 at the age of 79, and is buried in the Kingston Cemetery.

Another interesting early citizen of Kingston was William C. Dunlap, a lawyer and a Major in the Militia. He was born in Knoxville in 1798, but his family moved to Roane County in 1801. He was Master of Union Lodge in 1825, and records show that he attended the Grand Lodge meeting in Nashville that year. He moved to Volivar, Tenn., in 1828, and died near Memphis in 1872.

In 1825, Henry Liggett was Senior Warden of Union Lodge. He represented the Lodge for many years and served as a Grand Lodge Officer. He was Junior Grand Warden in 1829 and again in 1835; Senior Grand Warden in 1831; and Deputy Grand Master in 1837. He was Master of Union Lodge several times, the last year being 1853. Henry Liggett was a prominent merchant and citizen of Kingston and one of the most faithful members our Lodge has ever had.

Throughout the history of the Lodge, and from its early beginning, its members have been active in community affairs. Richard Richards was Junior Warden of the Lodge in 1825. He was a Medical Doctor and later appointed a trustee of the Rittenhouse Academy. This was an educational academy of higher learning in Kingston that offered educational opportunities beyond the school system of those times. It was organized in 1806, and it had many Masons as trustees. In addition to Dr. Richards, a few of the trustees who were Masons were Thomas and John Brown, Hugh Dunlap, Henry Liggett, Robert Gilliland, Lewis Jordan, W. S. Center, and James McNutt.

Colonel Return J. Meigs, for which Meigs County is named, resided in Kingston at Southwest Point for several years. He was in the area when Union Lodge was formed. He was an Indian Agent from 1801 until his death in 1823. He was a member of American Union Lodge of Marietta, Ohio.

The Lodge continued through its early years to serve the community, and its members were prominent in the affairs of the City and the County. A copy of its first By-Laws show that its members were required to attend its meetings and participate in its endeavors. Many of its members were farmers and had to either walk or ride horseback to attend the meetings. Indians were still in the area, but Kingston was fast becoming an important City. It was a stopover from Knoxville to Nashville. Also it was Capitol of the State of Tennessee for one day when the Treaty With the Cherokees was signed. Many prominent men passed through Kingston and stopped and visited with the members of Union Lodge. Gen. Andrew Jackson, later twice Grand Master of Tennessee, and President of the United States, was one of them.

As far as can be determined, the Lodge held its first meetings in the first Courthouse of Roane County. Records of the Roane County Court meeting in April of 1825 gave the Lodge permission to enlarge the upstairs by removing a partition. When a second Courthouse was built in 1854, the Masons obtained permission to meet upstairs. They moved in and held meetings before the building was accepted by the County Court. The Lodge had a brass band at that time which marched in local parades. It was privileged to participate in the Courthouse Dedication ceremonies in 1856.

At the beginning of the War Between the States, members of Union Lodge again marched off to fight. This time, unlike conflicts before, they were divided. It became brother against brother. The members of the Lodge distinguished themselves on both sides. Robert King Byrd, a Past Master of the Lodge, organized the first Union Regiment of Tennessee at Camp Dick Robinson in August of 1861. He was a Colonel, and the Secretary of the Lodge, James T. Shelley, served as a Major. The 1st U.S. Regiment under the command of Col. Byrd assisted in the capture of Cumberland Gap. They fought at Stones River, and, under Gen. Burnside, participated in the Siege of Knoxville.

The Confederate 43rd Tennessee Regiment was organized in Nov. 1861, with J. W. Gillespie, a Past Master of Union Lodge, as Colonel. They fought in East Tennessee, and later joined Bragg’s Kentucky Brigade. They went on to fight in Vicksburg and around Winchester, Fisherville, Cedar Creek, and in later fighting, in Morristown and Russellville.

These were trying years for the Lodge; however, it did confer several degrees and managed to hold meetings while the War raged around the area. Returns to the Grand Lodge in 1866 state “That owing to the ravages of the late War, all of our books and papers, except a few, and our Charter, were destroyed”. A list of members was compiled from the memories of James T. Shelley, Secretary, and J. W. McNutt, Past Master.

In 1871, James Sevier, a grandson of Gen. John Sevier, was Master of the Lodge. Henry Crumbliss, Clerk and Master of Roane County, was Senior Warden. Wiley Love served as Junior Warden, J. W. McNutt, Treasurer, end James T. Shelley, Secretary. This same year, Brother R. K. Byrd and wife, Mary, gave the Lodge 3/4 of an acre, parts of lots 1-2-15-16 where the Methodist Church now stands. There, Union Lodge erected a two story building where it met upstairs. The downstairs portion was leased to the Methodist Church for an initial period of 99 years.

In 1901, the Lodge building caught fire and was totally destroyed. Union Lodge met for a few months in the Knights of Pythias Hall on Race Street. It was then able to make arrangements with the County Court to meet in the “Long Room” over the Court Room in the Courthouse. These quarters were shared with the Oddfellows Lodge from 1901 to 1906. At about this time, Brother D. C. Sparks had purchased a building at the corner of Race Street and Kentucky Street in Kingston. He leased the top half of this building to the Lodge for a initial period of one year. The Lodge wanted to acquire this place for its meetings and use, but it did not have the financial resource to purchase the entire building. As a result, D. C. Sparks sold the top half of the building to Union Lodge for the sum of $300.00. The indenture and deed to this property is recorded in the Roane County Courthouse and dated December 2, 1907. This was a rare real estate transaction because not often in Tennessee has a deed been issued and registered that suspends a property owner “forever” above the property of the owner of the land beneath. Captain Sparks was a member of the Lodge, and he firmly believed that the arrangements were sound. The Lodge remodeled the upstairs to meet its needs and moved in. The first meetings were held there in the early part of 1908.

The Lodge continued to prosper and increase in influence within the community, even through the Great Depression. On October 6, 1921, Union Lodge No. 38, F.& A.M. celebrated its 100th anniversary. The celebration was a gala affair. Festivities and ceremonies were held at the Fair Grounds located on North Kentucky Street, about where the present I-40 Interstate Highway crosses over the existing North Kentucky Street. The public was invited, and the Lodge furnished food and entertainment for all who attended. Both political and inspiring speeches were delivered by prominent citizens of our community and of the State of Tennessee. Music was provided by the Rockwood Masonic Band. W.T .Ferguson was the Worshipful Master at that time. He and the officers and members of the Lodge did a great and wonderful job. By means of this celebration, and the promotion of good times for all, they properly demonstrated to the community that our fraternity supports and encourages the best values and philosophies of life.

After enjoying relatively tranquil times, Union Lodge No. 38 began to experience significant changes in its traditional and comfortable pace of activities. This change took place as a direct result of three specific and direct actions of the Government of the United States of America. These actions were as follows:

1. The construction of Watts Bar Dam by the U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority on the Tennessee River with the resulting impoundment of water within the land in Roane County required to provide the water reservoir capacity necessary to support the designed electrical power generating capacity of the dam system.

2. The establishment of the Oak Ridge complex for Atomic Bomb development purposes during World War II. This program encompassed the seizure by the United States Government of significant portions of property owned by long-time and original-descendant residents of Roane County, with Kingston as its County Seat.

3. The construction of the Kingston Power Generating plant at Kingston, Tennessee, by the TVA. At the time of its construction and initial operation, it was the largest, single, electrical power generating plant in the world.

This information is presented at this time because all of the projects described above were successfully completed by men who came from all over the United States of America to do the work required. Roane County, Tennessee, at that time, could supply only a small portion of the specific craftsman and/or technical skills required to accomplish the Governmental goals of the projects described above. The total period of time encompassing these activities was from about the early 1940’s to the early 1960’s. It is important to note that these were mature men who brought with them a variety of skills and who had previously demonstrated their abilities, skills, and accomplishments in their respective callings. This particular collection of skills and talents was and remains unsurpassed in the history of our Nation.

It is also important to note that a significant number of these men were Masons. They came here with Masonic memberships in a number of Lodges throughout our Nation. As these Masons entered into their respective positions of input to the overall work loads and missions called upon them, they introduced their unique, strong, and positive threads of honesty, productivity, and integrity into the various fabrics of accomplishment that have produced the results we and our families enjoy today.

During the decade of 1950 to 1960, Union Lodge No. 38 experienced an unprecedented rate of growth in its membership. This was the result of transfers of membership from other Lodges coupled with an upsurge of an interest in Masonry among the younger men of the community. As a result, it became obvious that the Lodge Room and its facilities were no longer adequate in size to meet the requirements of the time. The members began to formulate plans and to take action to build a new Lodge Building. This then led to an evaluation of real estate in Kingston that would meet our needs, and we found that no property was available for our purposes at that time. This was frustrating, but one of our members came to our aid. Clyde W. Holden (who was known affectionately as “Ox” because of his physical size) made available to the Lodge a piece of property on Spring Street in Kingston across the street from the Kingston Junior High School. The Lodge voted to acquire this site for a future building, and on February 6, 1961, purchase of this property by our Lodge was completed. The Warranty Deed associated with this transfer of property ownership was noted in Note Book H, Page 246, on March 4, 1961, in the Roane County Register’s Office and recorded in Deed Book T, Series 8, Page 519.

After this goal was established, the Lodge began to move forward with enthusiasm and energy. It is important to note that at that time many of the members were skilled in the building and construction professions, and they did not hesitate to lend their talents to the planning and actual construction of the building we now occupy. Construction plans were prepared, and a ground-breaking ceremony was held on Saturday, September 21, 1963. Work was started, the building was completed, the Lodge moved from its old location to the new one on Spring Street, and held its first Stated Meeting in the new facilities on August 1, 1966.

In 1971 Union Lodge No. 38 celebrated the 150th anniversary of the issuance of its Charter by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee in 1821. Since this was a special occasion, the members decided to publicize this event among both the Masonic fraternity and the community. Committees were formed and plans formulated early in the year to make this a memorable celebration. Interest and support of this event from both Masons and the surrounding community was most gratifying. In addition to our members, Masons from other Lodges nearby contributed assistance where possible. The Grand Lodge Officers and Past Grand Officers were most gracious in lending their support early in the year, and their help was most valuable.

So, on Wednesday, October 6, 1971, Union Lodge held its 150th “Birthday Party”. On October 2nd, the Mayor of Kingston, Robert Hunphreys, had signed an official City of Kingston Resolution proclaiming October 6, 1971, as “Union Lodge 38 Free and Accepted Masons Day” throughout the city. The Roane County School System gave us permission to use the Roane County High School gymnasium for refreshments, musical entertainment, and fellowship plus use of the cafeteria facilities for the preparation of food and drinks. This cooperation and support from the local governmental organizations was certainly welcomed and greatly appreciated.

The Lodge was opened for business at noon. A Master Mason degree was conferred. The candidate was Brother Howard Mac Trapp, who later became Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 1985. The Lodge then adjourned its meeting, and the members and guests then retired to the Roane County High School gymnasium for the evening meal and entertainment. Music was provided by a band from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, all of whom were Masons. The public was invited to this party. A barbeque meal with fixings was served to a crowd of over 1,000 people. The program consisted of Old Harp singing by Brother John L. Fritts and his son Harry; and talks by Brother Fritts, Brother Kenneth Deatherage, who was our local Assistant Attorney General, and Brother Joe Carr, who was then Secretary of State of Tennessee. The Lodge was reconvened at about 10:00 PM and closed its business for the day at about 11:00 PM.

The minutes of that day show that about 225 Masons were present. About 75 to 80 of them were from neighboring Lodges and other Lodges throughout the State and Nation. For Masonic historical purposes, it is necessary to note that the most significant group of Masons that came to the festivities consisted of Grand Lodge Officers, Past Grand Lodge Officers, Past Grand Masters, and Officers of other Grand Masonic Bodies from throughout the State. Officers in attendance were as follows:

Special List of Masons Present

October 6, 1971

Union Lodge No. 38. F& A.M. Kingston, Tenn.

Charles Burton Jones, Jr.; Grand Master Johnson City Lodge No. 486, Johnson City, TN

Joseph Clinton Mobley; Deputy Grand Master Park Avenue Lodge No. 362, Memphis, TN

Daniel S. Johnson; Senior Grand Warden Tullahoma Lodge No. 262, Tullahoma, TN

J. Castro Smith; Junior Grand Warden Shekinah Lodge No. 524, Knoxville , TN

Ralph A. Croyle; Senior Grand Deacon Sinking Creek Lodge No. 575, Gray, TN

Everrett Clark; Junior Grand Deacon Faith Lodge No. 756, Oak Ridge, TN

John Riley; Past Grand Master Jackson No. 45, Jackson, TN

Arch E. McClanahan; Grand Treasurer & Past Grand Master McWhirtersville Lodge No. 375, Donelson, TN

Wallace P. Douglas; Grand Secretary & Past Grand Master Humbolt Lodge No. 202, Humbolt, TN

Preston R. Pounds; Grand Lecturer Whorley Lodge No. 601, Chattanooga, TN

Jake Denny; Grand Lecturer Johnson City Lodge No. 486, Johnson City, TN

Jack Barnes; Grand Lecturer Jackson Lodge No. 45, Jackson, TN

John R. Stracener; Grand Master of Grand Council, Royal and Select Masters Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 18, Murfreesboro, TN

H. Gordon Higgs; R. E. Grand High Priest, Royal Arch Masons Paris Lodge No. 108, Paris, TN

Russell B. Tandy; Past Grand High Priest, Past Grand Commander Loretto Lodge No. 655, Loretto, TN

Sam Stephenson; Past Grand Master King Lodge No. 461, Bristol, TN

Nathan Roberts; Past Grand Master Chattanooga Lodge No. 199, Chattanooga, TN

Daniel Porter Henegar; Past Grand Master Warren Lodge No. 125, McMinnville, TN

Ralph Wiley Clair Lambert; Grand King Royal Arch Masons Jere Baxter Lodge No. 742, Nashville, TN

James P. McGinnis; Grand Commander, G.C. Morristown Lodge No. 231, Morristown, TN

Ray Pearson; Chairman, Board of Custodians Clay Lodge No. 386, Church Hill, TN

Turner Williams; Member, Board of Custodians Edgefield Lodge No. 254, Nashville, TN

John B. Arp, Jr.; Director, Masonic Education Union Lodge No. 38, Kingston, TN

E. Paul Fly; Grand Lodge Accounts Committee Phoenix Lodge No. 131, Nashville, TN

Jimmy A. Buford; Venerable Master, S.R.L.P., Past Grand Patron Chattanooga Lodge No. 199, Chattanooga, TN

Lamar Timmons; S.R. Secretary of Chattanooga, P.P. Whorley Lodge No. 601, Chattanooga, TN

Coy Duke; Past Grand Master & Director of Widows and Orphans Fund Jere Baxter Lodge No. 742, Nashville, TN

E. Guy Frizzell; Past Grand Master Bright Hope Lodge No. 557, Knoxville, TN

In 1971 it became apparent that our Lodge had a significant number of older members and widows of older members whose lives stretched back to the latter part of the last century. Therefore, various members began to interview people in and around Kingston that could contribute to the past history of the area regarding the input of Masonry to our general community welfare and progress down through the years. This resulted in the accumulation of a unique body of information of particular interest to both our Lodge and to Roane County residents in general. This then led to contact with the principal newspaper of the area, the Roane County News, of Kingston, Tennessee, to see if they were interested in the historical information we had obtained. We found that the personnel of this newspaper were very much interested in our findings, and volunteered to assemble our information in a proper form for publication. This spirit of cooperation and understanding was greatly appreciated and welcomed. As a result of work between members of our Lodge and the Roane County News, a special Masonic edition of this newspaper was composed and published on September 27, 1971. This particular publication contained a wealth of information regarding the manner in which Masonry has influenced and contributed to the growth and inestimable positive family values which our city and our surrounding localities presently enjoy.

A number of copies of this newspaper were obtained by members of the Lodge in 1971 and retained for future reference. Upon examination of these historical newspapers in 1996, and after 25 years of retention, it was observed that these copies had deteriorated somewhat because of exposure to our existing environmental atmospheric chemical composition. As a result, a good copy of this publication was procured and given additional long life retention by use of modern plastic lamination techniques. Therefore, in addition to this discourse, a complete set of plastic-laminated sheets of this newspaper is hereby presented as a supplement to these comments regarding the history of Union Lodge No. 38. (Editor’s Note: The plastic laminated newspaper referred to above is located in the archives of Union Lodge No. 38). Masons of the past in our County, and especially those who have been members of our Lodge, have contributed inestimable quantities of valuable time and influence to the general welfare and prosperity of our present community. Thus, to more thoroughly understand and comprehend the most recent history of our Lodge, it is, perhaps, essential to examine this edition of the Roane County News. It provides both a special insight into and a historically-valuable source of knowledge and appreciation of the manner in which Masonry has contributed to the formulation, implementation, and preservation of the way of life we presently enjoy.

In 1972, Union Lodge initiated an activity that has attracted considerable interest and support within the Masonic Fraternity in Tennessee and elsewhere throughout the nation. This is the now-well-known “Cave Degree” in Roane County. (For a history of the Cave Degree, please click here).

This essentially brings this discourse to the present, 1996, regarding the historical activities of Union Lodge per se.

By way of additional history, as previous mentioned, Union Lodge #38 was instrumental in the charering of Stockton Valley Lodge #367. This Lodge later changed its name to Paint Rock Lodge #367. By the mid 2000’s, Paint Rock Lodge’s membership had declined to fewer than 30 members. In 2010, the Lodge voted to sell their building and surrender their charter. The proceeds from the building sale were divided among several Churches and Charities. From September to December 2010, Paint Rock Lodge met at Union Lodge–the charter was officially surrendered on January 2, 2012. Most of the members of Paint Rock Lodge transferred their membership to Union Lodge #38.

Down through the years, Union Lodge has sponsored and supported local bodies of affiliated and higher orders of Masonry to the best of its ability. Therefore, the following items of information are presented in the interest of historical completeness.

The Kingston Assembly No. 78 of the Order of the Rainbow For Girls was first initiated on August 18, 1956, with the Harriman Assembly conferring the degrees on thirty-seven candidates. A detailed and complete description of the activities of this Assembly up to 1971 is given on page 19 of the special Masonic Edition of the Roane County News, Monday, September 27, 1971. This page is included in the laminated copy of this newspaper that is incorporated as a part of this presentation. Interest in this Assembly among the girls and young women of the community diminished considerably during the passing years. The last annual returns from the Assembly were in September, 1989, and it became inactive in early Spring of 1990.

A Chapter of the Order of the DeMolay for Boys was Chartered by the members of Union Lodge on May 23, 1961. Brother Floyd D. Rudd was appointed as Chairman. The organizing Advisory Council consisted of the following Masons:

Albert Jackson; W. L. Seaver; Alfred E. Newby; Nelson B. Seamon; Fred J. Barger; John Albert Davis; Haskell D. Webb; John B. Arp, Jr.; A.T. Wallace; William P. Newby; William A. Parris; Ross L. Jones; and J. Ralph Johnston

It is also sad to note that interest in this Chapter of the Order of DeMolay among the boys and young men of the community diminished to such a low point that the Chapter ceased its activities on or about March 13, 1980.

At the present, Union Lodge is both pleased and honored that local chapters of five Masonic bodies are very active and hold their regular meetings there.

1. Harriman Chapter No. 145 of The Most Excellent Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Tennessee, received its Charter on January 28, 1896. Its location was given as Harriman, Tennessee in the County of Roane. The original officers were Walton H. Julian, High Priest; Hiram Abiff Peterman, King; and Calvin W. Nottingham, Scribe. A Duplicate Charter was issued August 5, 1969, because the original was lost. The Chapter had been moved to Kingston, Roane County, and the name changed to Roane Chapter No. 145, on May 13, 1969, by dispensation from the Grand High Priest. Sadly, this Chapter surrendered its Charter in 1998.

2. Kingston Chapter No. 405 of The Order of the Eastern Star was chartered March 16, 1948. The original officers were Ruby Smitherman Yount, Worthy Matron; Robert S. Ladd, Worthy Patron; Pauline Crowder, Associate Matron; and Lonnie J. Alexander, Associate Patron.

3. Charity Court No. 17 Order of the Amaranth was chartered on March 12, 1983. The original officers were Barbara Leach, Royal Matron; Elmer (Bill) Leach, Royal Patron; Dorothy Crawley, Associate Matron; and Lon Luttrell, Accociate Patron.

(Note by TN Lodge of Research Proceedings Editor: Charity Court No. 17 has distinguished itself by producing two Grand Royal Matrons, two Grand Royal Patrons, and the current Supreme Royal Matron (1997-1998). In addition, the only Past Supreme Royal Matron from Tennessee has transferred to this Court. This member is also presently serving as Supreme Treasurer and Grand Secretary).

4. Clinch River Council No. 136, Kingston, Tenn., of The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters (Cryptic Masons) of the State of Tennessee was chartered on March 23, 1987. The original officers were Richard E. Harris, Thrice Illustrious Master; Elmer I. Leach, Deputy Master; and Thomas E. Massengill, Principal Conductor of the Work. Sadly, this body also surrendered its charter in 1998.

5. Burlington Forest No. 207, Tall Cedars of North America.  Burlington Forest No. 207 was established in 2009 with Bro. Herbert Brinker as Grand Tall Cedar, Bro. Jerry Brackett Senior Deputy Grand Tall Cedar, and Louis Devillon Junior Deputy Grand Tall Cedar.  In November 2011, Louis Devillon was elected Grand Tall Cedar and will preside over the Forest in 2012. Tall Cedars supports and develops funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in an effort to defeat the several causes of this disease.  The Forest meets the second Saturday of February, May, and November and the third Saturday of August at Union Lodge No. 38, Kingston, Tennessee.

Down through the years, Union Lodge has been a Mother Lodge for a number of Masons who have distinguished themselves with regard to achievements within the Masonic Fraternity throughout the State of Tennessee. Our Lodge is proud of these men. We feel that we are Justified in displaying, within our Lodge, information pertaining to the Masonic activities of these men. As a result, in this year, 1996, our Lodge set aside a small area in the vestibule, outside the Lodge Room, for the purpose of displaying certain memorabilia pertaining to the achievements within the Masonic fraternity of distinguished Lodge Members. To manage this area, a Memorabilia Committee was established to procur, and display properly, historical information of interest to the Lodge and/or interest among the Masonic Fraternity of Tennessee in general.

At the present, a significant amount of data has been obtained and items of interest have been collected and are displayed in this Memorabilia Area for the examination and study by any interested persons. For the purposes of this written discourse, therefore, the following information pertaining to presently acquired Lodge memorabilia is hereby presented as a part of this particular discourse.

For historical purposes, the following information is included in this written discourse.

Union Lodge Brethren Who Have Served the Grand Lodge of Tennessee

John Burton Arp, Jr.; PM – Grand Master; 1983

Thomas Boduch; PM; – Grand Master; 2010

Henry Liggett; PM – Deputy Grand Master; 1837

John Burton Arp, Jr.; PM – Deputy Grand Master; 1982

Thomas Boduch; PM; – Deputy Grand Master; 2009

Henry Liggett; PM – Senior Grand Warden; 1831

John Burton Arp, Jr.; PM – Senior Grand Warden Master; 1981

Thomas Boduch; PM; – Senoir Grand Warden; 2008

Henry Liggett; PM – Junior Grand Warden; 1829 & 1835

John Burton Arp, Jr.; PM – Junior Grand Warden; 1980

Thomas Boduch, PM – Junior Grand Warden; 2007

Elmer I. Leach; PM – Senior Grand Deacon; 1983

Terry W.Jones; PM – Senior Grand Deacon; 2010

Hoke S. Culbertson; PM; – Junior Grand Deacon; 1994

Thomas Boduch; PM; – Junior Grand Deacon; 2005

M. E. Wimberly; PM; – Grand Marshal; 1976

Thomas Boduch; PM – Grand Marshal; 1997

Hugh E. Wyatt; PM – Grand Sword Bearer; 1953

Thomas Boduch; PM – Grand Tiler; 2004

Fred J. Barger; PM – Dispensations and By-Laws Committee; 1992-1995

Thomas Boduch; PM – Vision 2013 Committee; 1996-2007

Hoke S. Culbertson; PM – Board of Control; 1997-

Thomas Boduch; PM – Education Committee; 2001-2006

Union Lodge Brethren Who Have Received York Rite Honors

Grand Chapter

Kimball Patterson; PM; – Grand Royal Arch Captain

Gary W. Hall; PM (No.460); – Grand Royal Arch Captain; 1991

Grand Council

T. Everett Masengill; PM; – Grand Marshal; 1991

Robert L. Sneed; PM; – Grand Sentinel; 1994

Gary W. Hall; PM (460); – Grand Conductor of the Council; 1997


John B. Arp, Jr.; PGM

John A. Davis; PM

Kenneth E. Deal; PM

Elmer G. Sheshler; PM (Vermont No. 13)

Richard E. Harris; PM (No.403)

Robert L. Sneed; PM

Union Lodge Brethren Who Have Received Scottish Rite Honors

33rd Degree

John S. Parker; PM

John B. Arp, Jr.; PM/PGM

Fred J. Barger; PM

Thomas Boduch; PM/GM

John C. Miller

Louis J. Scherf; PM

Bert H. Till

Marcus O. Stanfield


Curtis T. Bailey

Gordon G. Bradford

Elmer I. Leach; PM

John R. Carter; PM

Hoke S. Culbertson; PM

Jonathan J. Loden

David C. Martin

Nelson B. Seaman

Union Lodge Brethren Who Are Members of the Royal Order of Scotland

John B. Arp, Jr.; PM, PGM

Elmer I. Leach; PM

Fred J. Barger; PM

Gary W. Hall; PM (No. 460)

T. Everett Massengill; PM

Marcus 0. Stanfield

William Brown PM, PGM(KS)

Thomas Boduch; PM


John C. Miller; Kerbela Potenatate; 1970

When one examines the manner in which individual members of our Lodge have contributed to the overall support and growth of Masonry and its ideals within both our local and state communities, three predominate names emerge. These names are those of John Cleo Miller, John Burton Arp, Jr. and Thomas Boduch.

John Cleo Miller

John C. Miller entered the Army at the beginning of World War II and saw considerable action. He achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant and he served with distinction in Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He received the Purple Heart for serious wounds suffered at the Anzio beachhead landing in Italy in February, 1944. John received three battle stars and three campaign ribbons.

John became a Master Mason in Union Lodge on January 28, 1961. He pursued his Masonic activities, and became a member of the York Rite and Scottish Rite bodies in Knoxville, Tennessee. When he became a member of Kerbela Temple of the Shrine in Knoxville, he began to energetically support the crippled children program of the Shrine. This led to the special recognition of being elected to the office Potentate of Kerbela Temple, and he served in this capacity for the year 1970.

John C. Miller has served as a Board Member of the Shrine Hospitals for Crippled Children at Greeneville, S.C. and Lexington, KY. He has also served as a Director of the Shrine Burns Hospital in Cincinnatti, Ohio. On November 7, 1970, the City of Kingston, by special proclamation of the Mayor, the Hon. Howard Burnette, honored him with a “John C. Miller Day”.

John Burton Arp, Jr.

John Burton Arp, Jr. became a Master Mason in Bright Hope Lodge No.577. Knoxville, TN, on October 2, 1951. After moving to Kingston he transferred his membership to Union Lodge in 1954.

He entered into Masonic activities with great enthusiasm and worked hard in support of Union Lodge and its activities. He served as Junior Warden in 1964 and Senior Warden in 1965. He was elected Worshipful Master for the year 1966, and presided over the movement of Union Lodge from its old location at the corner of Race and Kentucky streets to its new and now present location on Spring street.

From the date of his Master Mason degree in 1951, Brother Arp maintained a steady pace of service and achievement within the Masonic fraternity. He became a member of the Scottish Rite, York Rite, and Shrine bodies of Knoxville. As he worked in these bodies and in his Lodge, he acquired an unusual knowledge of Masonry, its history, its teachings, and its philosophies of life. The Grand Lodge had been considering the starting of a program to improve the understanding of Masonry in Tennessee and needed someone to organize and promote such an effort. After search and study, it was determined that Brother Arp met the needs and qualifications of such a Mason.

As a result, after serving as Worshipful Master of Union Lodge, John was appointed Director of Masonic Education for the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. He served in this capacity from 1966 to 1980, when he was appointed a Grand Lecturer. In the Grand Lodge, Brother Arp was elected Junior Grand Warden in 1980. He advanced each year, and was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master on March 24, 1983. He retired as a Grand Lecturer on December 31, 1992, but continued to be very active in Masonry until his death on March 29, 1993.

Thomas Boduch, M.D.

Dr. Thomas Boduch was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended Local Schools, Springfield College and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine on May 20, 1979 from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He entered active duty with the U. S. Air Force and completed further training at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He served the Air Force as a Family Physician at Hancock AFB, Syracuse, New York from 1980 to 1984. He then moved to Tennessee and worked as an Emergency Room Physician in East Tennessee from 1984 until 1989. In 1989, he established a Family Practice office in Kingston–located on the same street as Union Lodge.

He became a Master Mason in Union Lodge No. 38 on April 13, 1991 and served as Worshipful Master in 1995 and 1996 (see photo above). He has served as Lodge Secretary since December 2004.

In 1996, he became invovled with the Grand Lodge of Tennessee’s VISION 2013 Masonic Renewal Movement and served on that committee until 2008. He served as chairman from 2006 to 2008 and in 2008, facilitated the transformation of that committee to the present Long Range Planning Committee.

From 2001 to 2006, he served as a member of the Masonic Education Committee. He also served as Grand Marshal in 1997, Grand Tiler in 2004 and Junior Grand Deacon in 2005

He was elected R. W. Junior Grand Warden on March 28, 2007 and advanced each year. He was elected the 171st M. W. Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee on March 25, 2010.

Two current activities of the Lodge should, perhaps, be included at this time.

In 1994 and 1995, Union Lodge sponsored a baseball team in the Babe Ruth League of Kingston. The team was made up of young men of 16 to 18 years of age. This year, the Lodge sponsored a Little League team of 7 to 8 year old boys. Our present Senior Warden, Michael R. Mann, has been very active in the organizing and coaching of these teams. He was head coach this year, and his team won the League Sportsmanship Award this year. The Lodge is also a co-sponsor with other civic organizations of boys football activities in Kingston.

In 1991 Union Lodge received a financial surprise in the form of a sizeable bequest from the settling of the estate of deceased Brother John Henry Peters. It was given with the requirement that it be invested and the returns be used for the advancement of Masonry and its ideals and for financial assistance to worthy young people. Therefore, the Lodge has established a scholarship fund in his honor to help high school graduates from Roane County and Midway High Schools get a start towards a college education.

During the settling of the United States, the Masonic Fraternity has provided a principal means for fellowship among the men of the various small communities that began to spring up across the land. In most areas it provided the only common ground for the meeting together of men of various political, religious, and occupational habits. Masonry asks only the support of the principles of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man as criteria for membership. Most men are willing to assemble together and cultivate new friendships in peace and harmony under these conditions.

It is with these thoughts and comments in mind that this discussion of the history of Union Lodge No. 38 is submitted for comments and consideration

Fraternally yours,

Victor M. Hovis, Jr.; P.M.

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