Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Lost Treasures of Homer Lodge

Originally posted on the Midnight Freemasons

Rediscovering The Lost Treasures Of Homer Lodge No. 199

by Midnight Freemasons Contributors
Gregory J. Knott
&
Todd E. Creason
The attic access at Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL)
Remember Geraldo Rivera when he was on live TV to open Al Capone’s vault to reveal all that treasure? Homer Masonic Lodge No. 199 (IL) recently had our own version of this show.  We all knew there were a lot of things in the attic of the Homer Masonic Lodge.  The building was constructed in 1892 and has been used continually by the lodge since that time.  But what was exactly up there was generally a mystery.
Homer Historical Society Member Molly Shoaf and Homer 
Secretary Denver Phelps look over some of the treasurers
On a Saturday morning, with the help of the Homer Historical Society, members of the lodge decided to bring down all the treasures from the attic and see what they were.  We had much better luck than Geraldo did!  It was like opening a time capsule from the past with items from 1856 to 1950.


There were Lodge by-laws from the 1850’s, copies of the Homer Enterprise newspaper from the late 1800s and early 1900s, petitions, old Christmas decorations and a large library of Illinois Grand Lodge Proceedings.
Some of the old papers and lodge items found stored upstairs in crates and cubby holes
Homer was also was home to Royal Arch Chapter No. 94 that finally gave up its charter in 2009 and the attic held a large amount of amount of Royal Arch petitions, annual proceedings and minute books.  An Eastern Star chapter was also at Homer and there were treasurers from these years as well.
Through the careful guidance of the Homer Historical Society, we are now going through all of the papers to get them organized and to be stored in manner that will preserve them for future generations. 
1857 Lodge By-Laws
Homer Lodge No. 199 is now in the process of converting a spare room into a museum so that some of these items can be displayed in glass cases.  There were many interesting relics found in the attic that will be featured in this collection, including glass degree slides, phonograph records, a very old top hat worn by one of the Masters, several collections of officer jewels and regalia, old movie posters, etc.
We found more than one set of beautiful glass degree slides
There are also some unique lodge furnishings that will be displayed.  Ogden Lodge No. 754 recently donated an old altar that belonged to Broadlands Lodge (no longer in existence) that will be set up on display in the museum.
Entered Apprentice Degree music by the Sousa Band
Homer Lodge is going to have the music on this old phonograph record, one of several discovered, digitally mastered and preserved by the University of Illinois Library.

What was most likely the original collar worn by the Master of Homer Lodge
Like Homer Lodge No. 199, many of our old Masonic buildings have been around for a long time, and very few probably know all the hidden treasures they contain hidden away in desks, attics, basements, and cupboards.  So take a little time, and have a look at what your lodge may have tucked away in boxes and file cabinets.  And if you're not sure what you have, contact your local Historical Society, and I'm sure they'll be anxious to help you go through what you find.  What looks like junk to many people may contain very important lost pieces of history.  The Homer Historical Society has already found a number of newspapers and documents that were up in the attic that they didn't have in their collection.  Some of those items may very well shed new light on what life was like in our part of Illinois more than a century ago.

GJK/TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33°  is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasonsseries. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.  He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana.  He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society.  Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at gknott63@gmail.com 

Molly Shoaf 2014 Community Builder Recipient



Homer Lodge No. 199 in Illinois recently held our Community Builders Award ceremony and honored Molly Spencer Shoaf.  Molly is a lifetime resident of Homer who as a member of the Homer Historical Society, has contributed countless hours in helping preserve the town’s history.  Molly is co-author of two books Volume 1, From the Timber to the Prairie and From the Calamity to the Calm (A History of Homer, Illinois Volume 2) and was a 2006 winner of the Studs Terkel Award presented by the Illinois Humanities Council.