The 20th Century

 

    J. L. Jones (1865-1906) was Junior Warden in 1898, Senior Warden in 1899 and Worshipful Master in 1901.  Jesse Lemuel Jones, or "Lem" as he was affectionately called, was born in Alabama and moved to Decatur in 1892.
    He was employed here by L&N Railroad, later as a U.S. Internal Revenue Officer and then as a Decatur Police Officer.
    He was a large man physically, brave and courageous as a lion.
    Late in the night of November 24, 1906, another rowdy Saturday night in turn-of-the-century Decatur, a telephone call was received at the Mayor’s office of a "domestic disturbance".  "Lem" answered the call alone at a house of ill repute on Dead Man’s Alley, named for the row of clapboard shanty houses beginning at the Rhodes Family/Lafayette Street Cemetery.  Robberies, murder, drugs,
sex, gambling, vice, corruption (general debauchery) were common in this seedy area.
    Alice Williams, the madam of the aforementioned house, claimed some men were raising a "rough house".  While "Lem" was arresting Cliff Way, another man, Waymond Moore, interfered, and “
Lem” was shot from behind (likely with his own side arm as it was never recovered) in the left temple by a vile coward and died the next morning.  He was slain while in faithful discharge of his sworn duty.
    Decatur lost another Hero and the Masonic Fraternity lost an exemplary Brother.  Brother J. L. Jones received Masonic Rites at his funeral and is buried within the Decatur City Cemetery.
    J. L. Jones was the
 third policeman murdered (one account called it an assassination) in Decatur in the last three years along with Officers William "Billy" A. Baber and Everett Steele.
    
Cliff Way
 was arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to 13 years but the sentence was reversed on appeal.  Waymond Moore, for whom a $650 reward had been posted, was apprehended, tried, convicted and was sentenced to 25 years.
    Was
 justice served?  Did they get the right man?  Well, maybe not the first time, but what about the second time?
    The front page of the Thursday evening edition of The Elkhart Weekly Truth, December 6, 1906, reported the following horrible claim.
    A hardened criminal, George W. Harris, made the following voluntary boastful confession while in custody (for the attempted murder of an Indiana Officer) of having murdered a Decatur Police Officer while in a “sporting house” brawl a few months ago (actually it was
 less than two weeks):
        "I dropped an officer in a sporting house at Decatur.  He attempted to arrest me
        and several others, and I shot through
 my coat.  "The cop fell dead.
        If they would get me down in Alabama they would soon have me hanging to a
        rope."
 
62 63 64
    
So, was Waymond Moore really the right man?
    In the words of the famous late columnist Paul Harvey “and that’s the rest of the story.”  Or, is it?  To Be Continued…
    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #45485482
 and read the heart-wrenching eulogy printed in his obituary in The Decatur Weekly News, December 8, 1906.
    
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to the Officer Down Memorial Page - Remembering All of Law Enforcement’s Heroes, honoring Officer Jessie Lemuel Jones.


     Charles Collier Robertson (1868-1951) was Junior Warden in 1900, Senior Warden in 1901 and Worshipful Master from 1902 until 1909 and again in 1914.  He was a 50-year Mason and a member of Rising Sun Lodge for over 50 years.
    C. C. Robertson worked for L & N Railroad and served a term as Morgan County Tax Collector.
    In the photo below Brother Robertson is shown in attendance of a Masonic Conference in Cullman - The Cullman Democrat - 22 January, 1948.



    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #50965798 and additional biographical information.

     Judge William E. Skeggs (1852-1931) was Worshipful Master of New Decatur Lodge No. 491 in 1902.  He came to Decatur in 1871 and taught school in Somerville and Decatur.  He was admitted to the bar in 1878 and practiced law at Somerville until 1887, when he opened an office at Decatur.  He represented Morgan County in the State Legislature in 1880-81 and served as Register in Chancery of Morgan County from 1883 until 1887.  He also has been a delegate to various state conventions.  Judge Skeggs also served this county as Probate Judge for 20 years.
    
In 1930, Judge William E. Skeggs disregarded a stop sign on Johnston Street and, while being cited, shot Officer T. E. Wright in the abdomen with a .41 caliber Derringer.  After several blood transfusions, Officer Wright died.
    Judge Skeggs was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for 2nd degree murder but the Judge never served a single day in prison.  Freed on appeal, Judge Skeggs' second trial ended in a mistrial.  He remained free while awaiting a re-trial.
    
In a strange and bizarre twist of ironic fate, while attempting to walk across Second Avenue, the Judge was struck by an automobile that had disregarded a stop sign and was fatally injured! 68 69

 

 

    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #54282458 and additional biographical information.

    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.

     W. R. McClusky (1875-1930) was Junior Warden in 1908, Senior Warden in 1909 and 1910 and Worshipful Master for three two-year terms in 1912 and 1913, 1915 and 1916 and again in 1918 and 1919.
    William Raymond McClusky
 lived as a Mason but, more impressively, died as a Mason.
    Stricken ill while conducting the Masonic Rites at the grave of A. H. Pence, at Somerville on Sunday afternoon, W. Raymond McClusky, of 1301 Seventh Avenue South, expired almost immediately.
    Mr. McClusky complained of feeling ill and called upon a Brother Mason to complete the service for him.  He staggered backward and despite the efforts of several physicians in the group, he died some ten minutes later just as the Pence funeral was completed.
    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #74078105 and additional biographical information.

    John Givens McGehee (1896-1981) Was Junior Warden in 1925, Senior Warden in 1926 and Worshipful Master in 1927, following in the footsteps of his father, D. D. McGehee. He was a charter member of the Decatur Rotary Club and served as Decatur Personnel Director.

   

      CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #58136186 and additional biographical information.

     1902-03 New Decatur Lodge #491 Officer Installation Ceremony at Lock "A" on the Tennessee River.

    This photo below is framed and displayed in Rising Sun Lodge and a copy now resides in the
 Morgan County Archives, Bank Street - Decatur, Ala.  All rights reserved.

 

    On September 12, 1907, The Grand Lodge of Alabama issued a dispensation for Austinville Lodge #679 and it was chartered on December 8, 1907.41  The charter was forfeited in 1933.  Meeting minutes from Albany Lodge #491 reveal that the three lodges regularly participated in courtesy degree work.

    Masonic Cornerstone Laying Ceremony was conducted on the Baptist Church in Decatur on August 11, 1908. 41

    The 39th meeting of the Alabama State Bar Association was held in the Masonic Theater, New Decatur, Alabama on Friday, July 14, 1916. 18 

    By vote of the citizens, in 1916 New Decatur was renamed to Albany, respectively changing the Lodge name to Albany Lodge #491. 8    
    The following year proved tragic, however, when Rising Sun’s building caught fire, and burned once again.
    
    From there, Rising Sun moved into the “Knights of Pythias” Building, which was located between Church and Wilson Streets on the west side of Bank Street.

    The Keller Memorial Bridge, over the Tennessee River at Decatur, was inaugurated March 6, 1928, and the Masonic Temple, home of Albany Lodge #491, was host to a banquet for 300 that evening. 9 

      In 1934, Rising Sun moved to the Masonic Temple on Johnston Street.  This building was owned by Albany Lodge #491.

    On May 3rd, 1935, Albany Lodge #491 and Rising Sun Lodge #29 were consolidated.  Upon agreement, both Lodges were now one, fully chartered as the original Rising Sun Lodge #29.
41


    The March 20, 1966 edition of
 The Decatur Daily published a full page article entitled Masonic Lodge No. 29 Looks Back 139 Years from the Then... and NoW section authored by John Knox.3  The article is framed and displayed in the Lodge and is more easily read on this file.

    The Friday, April 29, 2005 edition of The Decatur Daily
 published an article in the Living Today section entitled Fencing in a chapter of history - Confederate groups honor 55 dead with historical marker, iron enclosure by Patrice Stewart.
    Included in the article was the following:
        Only two of the graves have been identified: John R. Palmer and Isaac Beard
        
PHOTO, Company B, 6th Arkansas, who was a Master Mason and has descendants
        in Texas.  As part of Tuesday's ceremony, members of Rising Sun No. 29 Masonic
        Lodge of Decatur gave him a proper Masonic funeral ceremony.
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The Masonic Ring
by gracious permission of Brother Howie Damron

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