P.J. Edwards (1847-1916) was Junior Warden in 1877 and 1878.  Perry Jackson Edwards was born at Milledgeville, GA.  In May, 1861, he enlisted, at the age of thirteen, in Company A, Sixteenth Georgia Battalion, Stewart's Brigade, Walker's Division.  Both Stewart and Walker were killed in the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

    He was in the service about two years and nine months and participated in the battles of Kennesaw, and in the Atlanta campaign, was with General Hood at Franklin and Nashville.
    He was never wounded but was captured in April, 1864 and held as a prisoner of war.  He was paroled on the 23rd day of April, 1865 at Macon, Ga.
    After attending the University of Georgia for two years, he was employed by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company.  In 1873 he moved to Decatur, Alabama where he was a car inspector.
    For the sum of $3,500, a deed was filed in the Morgan County Probate Court, transferring the 50-foot lot at the corner of Bank and Walnut Streets to the Decatur Lodge I. O. O. F.  The property was owned by a combine of local men, who bought it during the boom days.  The deed was signed by Col. C. C. Harris and P. J. Edwards, trustees.
    It is understood the Odd Fellows will, in the near future erect a handsome two story double brick store building on the lot. 60
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #39805373 and additional biographical information.

John Wesley Jones (1827-1884) was Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 for 6 years from 1879 until 1884, the year of his death.
    Among his occupations, John W. Jones was a farmer, printer, merchant and superintendent of the Huntsville and Decatur Railroad, and on the line's completion became its agent at Decatur.
    He served as 2nd Lieutenant and Captain of
 Company D., 7th Alabama regiment, C.S.A.
    He was a representative in the Constitutional Convention of 1875, as well as Mayor of Decatur for three terms.
    From the January 17, 1883 edition of The Huntsville Advocate:
        The impressive Masonic ceremonies over the remains of Dr. F. W. Sykes were
        conducted by Capt. J. W. Jones, Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge
        29.  Members of the Trinity and Town Creek Lodges were present.  Dr. Sykes
        was a member of the Town Creek Lodge.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #39896369 and additional biographical information.

    Col. Christopher Columbus Harris (1842-1935) was Senior Warden in 1880 and in 1881.  C. C. Harris obtained his early education under the parental roof by a private instructor, who was employed to teach the children of his parents, as was customary in the South in antebellum days.
    In 1861 he joined
 Company F, Sixteenth Alabama Regiment of Infantry Confederate Army, as a private.  He soon became a lieutenant, and was wounded at the battles of ShilohChickamauga,Jonesboroand at Franklin, Tenn., and from the effect of the wound received at the latter place, was confined four months in a private house in Franklin, Tenn.  He was afterward captured, and spent some time as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase.
After the war he returned home penniless.  His father's fortune too, for the most part, was gone, so that his future depended entirely upon his own energy and industry.  He renewed his literary labors, in connection with the study of the law, and in 1866 was admitted to the bar in Lawrence County.  About that time he was Clerk of the Circuit Court: afterward County Solicitor, and in 1872 moved to Decatur, where he has since resided, and where he has been a prominent figure in society and in church, and in every move that had for its end the up building of the community and general welfare of the country.
    He was a true visionary in the history of Decatur, Alabama and one of the leaders of the Decatur Land Improvement & Furnace Company.  In 1881, along with W. W. Littlejohn as one of it's incorporators, Harris founded and was president of the Bank of Decatur (later First National Bank) and served as attorney for the Decatur Land Improvement & Furnace Company.
    In 1914 and 1915, Colonel Harris served in the United States Congress as a Representative of Alabama's 8th Congressional District, now obsolete.
    In the practice of law he is associated with Robert C. Brickell, late Chief Justice of Alabama.
 56 57 58



    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #7420183 and additional biographical information.

    W. W. Littlejohn (1845-1907) was Junior Warden in 1884 and in 1886.  He was a Civil War veteran who enlisted in the 154th Tennessee Volunteers and later served under General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.
      In 1877 he moved to Decatur, where he assisted in the management of Polk Hotel.  William Whitson Littlejohn was a man of broad business ideas and superior character who provided leadership for the Decatur Land and Furnace Company.  In 1880, he was one of the incorporators of the Bank of Decatur (later First National Bank) and served as the cashier until his death.  Mr. Littlejohn remained in Decatur through the dreadful scourge of yellow fever in 1888 and gave noble aid to the victims of disease during that awful period.
    W. W. Littlejohn was one of the prime movers in the early enterprises of Decatur, which have resulted in achievements exceeding the expectation of the most sanguine.  It has been said of him and his work in projecting this enterprise "that he built better than he knew."  55
    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #39804478 and additional biographical information.

Robert Perry Baker
 (1837-1905) In 1886 R. P. Baker was Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 and also Mayor of Decatur, Alabama. 3    In January 1859 he came South and, having learned the printing trade under his father, aided in the publication of The Decatur Times assisted by Joe W Furey.      In 1861 he published The Constitution in Tuscumbia.
    In 1862 he enlisted in the Thirty-fifth Alabama Regiment, C.S.A. and served gallantly at the battles of Corinth, Baton Rouge and Vicksburg.
    He was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as the United States Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama and held that position from 1875 until 1879. 37    
    In 1880 he purchased the McCartney Hotel property.    
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #39924155 and additional biographical information.

    Louis M. Falk (1839-1915) was Senior Warden in 1886. Before moving to Decatur in 1869, he opened a store 22 miles south at a Louisville & Nashville Railroad station in 1858 and named it FALKVILLE.
    When the war broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army for one year, but this company was not received, and in the summer of 1862 he enlisted in Company A, Fourth Alabama Cavalryand served mostly in this Alabama and Tennessee. In 1864, he was captured near Pond Spring, Alabama, and sent to Camp Douglas, where he was held as a prisoner of war until the close of the war.


    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #42081749 and additional biographical information.    

    The second yellow fever epidemic within a decade decimated Decatur again in 1888 and claimed 35 souls including 5 doctors, three of whom were members and one an Officer of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29.

     Dr. Robert V. Williams (????-1888) and Dr. William G. Gill (1819-1888), pictured below, were members of Rising Sun Lodge and were among the 35 victims of the 1888 Yellow Fever epidemic.

     CLICK HERE to be re-directed to Dr. Gills Find A Grave Memorial #27166178 and additional biographical information.

     Dr. W. J. Young (????- 1888), was Junior Warden in 1876 and again in 1885.  He was Senior Warden in 1877 and again in 1878 when the first epidemic struck.  He survived the first epidemic in 1878 in discharge of his Hippocratic duties but contracted the disease on October 26, 1888.
    The October 27, 1888 edition of the Chicago Tribune reported:
        "Dr. Young's case is said to be violent." 45
    After weary weeks of unceasing labors and deep solicitude for the welfare of others  46, Dr. Young succumbed to the disease on October 30, 1888.
    From The Tennessee Valley Genealogical  Society, Valley Leaves, Volumes 31-32, page 142:
        "Dr. W. J. Young was the last of the noble heroes to die." 47
    For over 100 years the yellow fever victims lay buried in a mass grave in Decatur City Cemetery until a monument was erected in 1991. 47
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #27166372 and additional biographical information.
    Illustration below courtesy of Old Morgan County Magazine -#22.  All rights reserved.

    Once again Decatur recovered and prospered.  During this time, on June 28th, 1890, the Grand Lodge of Alabama issued a dispensation for another Lodge, naming it “New Decatur” Lodge #491. 41
    With this development, Rising Sun Lodge #29 moved into the J. T. Banks Building (now called the McEntire Building) on the corner of Oak and Cain Streets.

    Lycastus Simpson Robinson
 (1849-1921) was Senior Warden in 1879, 1882 and again in 1893.  He was Worshipful Master in 1885, 1888 and 1889.
    In 1893, L. S. Robinson and Peter Broadfoot secured a patent for what is termed the “king brace for a railroad scraper”, for which they were offered and refused $20,000. 73
    In 1896, his second wife, Katherine, passed away leaving 5 children, including a 4 day old infant, in his care.
    His son, Leon Simpson Robinson followed his father’s footsteps into Rising Sun Lodge and was it’s Junior Warden in 1919 and Worshipful Master in 1920.
 to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #9379677 and additional biographical information.

    Dr. W. E. Forest (1850-1903) Dr. William Edward Forest, President of the Decatur Building and Investment Company, was born in Burlington, Vt. He is a son of John R. and Caroline (Powers) Forest, the former a native of England. 
     William E. Forest graduated at the University of Vermont, at Burlington, in 1874, in the classical course, and again at the University of New York, in 1876, in the medical course. He practiced ten years in the hospitals of New York City and elsewhere; was connected with the Women's Asylum and the New York Dispensary, and contributed many monographs to medical journals. He was a member of several medical societies while actively in the practice. 
     In 1883 Dr. Forrest invested extensively in real estate in North Alabama, and in these speculations was remarkably successful. In 1887 he made Decatur his home, and became one of the organizers of the Decatur Land and Improvement Company, and has since become a stockholder in nearly all the enterprises in that booming city. He is president of the Building and Investment Company and of two brick manufacturing companies: president of the Wire Fence Company; largest stockholder and director in the Gas & Oil Company; and secretary in the Artificial Ice Company. He is a Knight of Honor, a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, Knights and Ladies of Honor, and the Masonic fraternity.
     Dr. Forest drowned in 1903 off Rockaway Point in Long Island, NY.

    CLICK HERE to be redirected to his Find A Grave Memorial #79832413 and additional biographical information.

   Edward J. Oden (1840-1900) was born in Morgan county, Ala., in 1840, and grew to manhood and received his education there. He responded to the first call to arms in the recent civil strife, and became a member of Company E, Fourth Alabama Cavalry, of which company he was made captain in regular order of promotion from the ranks. He was with Forrest in his campaigns in Alabama, the Valley of the Tennessee, and Georgia; in the pursuit and capture of General Streight, when, by their pluck and well-devised stratagem, Forrest succeeded in capturing a Federal force of more than five times the number of his own. The audacity of Forrest's scheme, and the chagrin of the prisoners when, too late, they discovered the ruse, will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. 
    Captain Oden was in battles at Decatur, AL, Athens, AL, Sulphur Trestle, TN, Pulaski, TN, Corinth, MS, Tupelo, MS, and many others.
    He was with Johnson's army at Dalton, GA., and in the running fight from Dalton to Atlanta. From the battle of Peach Tree creek he returned to the Valley of the Tennessee, and saw his last fight at Selma, AL, where his regiment, and in fact, nearly the whole army, were captured, but Captain Oden, accompanied by
General Forrest and about one hundred others, cut their way out through the lines and escaped. They proceeded soon afterwards to Wheeler's Station, near Decatur, and surrendered in May, 1865.
   After the war Captain Oden farmed in 
Franklin county, Ala., and taught school one year. Since 1868 he has had an interest in a store at Falkville, and another at Coal Hill, AR.  He has been county superintendent of education for ten years consecutively. In 1884 he became interested in a bank in Decatur, in connection with C. C. Harris and W.W. Littlejohn and is now a director in the First National Bank, of Decatur, into which the Bank of Decatur was merged.
    In 1886, Captain Oden bought a half interest in the Hartselle Index from E.H. Rolfe, with whom his brother. A. A. Oden, had previously been associated, and since that time has edited that paper. He was married, in 1862, to Miss Carrie E. Sherrill. They have two sons, Arthur L. and Walter L. The Captain is a member of the Christian church, a Freemason, Knight of Pythias and Knight of Honor.
    Edward J. Oden is a son of Elias Oden, and grandson of Hezekiah Oden, of East Tennessee, who was a soldier of the Revolutionary War: brought his family to Alabama in 1819, and died in 1848.
   CLICK HERE to be redirected to his Find A Grave Memorial #28632688 and additional biographical information.

    John Charles Eyster (1863-1926) was Senior Warden in 1890 and Worshipful Master in 1891 and 1892.  He was the Morgan County delegate from Decatur to the 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention and was afterward presented the gavel by Col. John B. Knox, Convention President.


     CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #9379677 and additional biographical information.

    On May 1st, 1899, Bro. H. Clay Armstrong, Grand Secretary visited the New Decatur Lodge, No. 491, at New Decatur and witnessed the conferring E.A. Degree by the WM, Bro. Geo. E. Saywell, which was well done and...
in due form.  It was my privilege to make “a talk” to the Brethren in the Lodge
         room. T
his Lodge has enjoyed great prosperity since its organization in 1890.
        Starting out with a membership of 17, it now has on its roll 53 members, and
        nowhere in my knowledge is the Masonic standard higher than in New Decatur
        Lodge, No. 491; the Cardinal Virtues and Tenets of the Craft are not more
        scrupulously observed and practiced anywhere than in this Lodge, nor is the outer
        door more closely guarded.  The Returns for the past year show that six applications,
        for the mysteries of Masonry, were rejected.
his is in many respects a “Model Lodge”; it’s financial condition is excellent; the
        moral standard is high; its membership is loyal and true and all are living in peace
        and harmony. So may it long continue.
o the brethren of this Lodge I am greatly indebted for the courtesies extended.
        During my visit I was entertained by the Lodge as its guest at "The Tavern'' in
        New Decatur." 

    Cotaco Opera House - Built in 1890, the Cotaco Opera House was the first opera house constructed in the state of Alabama.  The Opera House was built on a 100 by 140 foot site that ran south from Johnston Street and fronted on the east side of 1st Avenue. It was built by the Cotaco Opera House Company, which was incorporated on September 16, 1889. 14
    In later years, it became the Masonic Lodge, Masonic Theatre, the Payne Theatre and more.  The photo below shows a neon sign on the 1966 Masonic Building (renamed from the Cotaco Opera House) that resembles or was relocated to the current Lodge on Bank and Walnut Streets.
It is located at 115 Johnston Street, SE in historic downtown Decatur, Alabama and presently there are several tenants.  It was placed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places
 in 1986. 30


      Riverboat with passengers at Lock "A" on the Tennessee River, 20 miles west of Decatur, Alabama.  The passengers are on a trip sponsored by the Masonic Lodge on May 17, 1895.
    The photo below is in the Digital Archives Collection of the Alabama Department of Archives And History.




    Dillard Dudley McGehee (1869-1912) Was Junior Warden in 1902, Senior Warden in 1903 and 1904 and Worshipful Master in 1911.  For a period of 20 years he was President of the Decatur Board of Education.


      CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #58136189 and additional biographical information.

The Masonic Ring
by gracious permission of Brother Howie Damron

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