The 21st Century
      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.



    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.
 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
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.

    The Sunday, July 12, 2005 edition of The Decatur Daily published an article entitled VALLEY OF YEARS PAST 75 Years Ago by Mary Lott and wrote that Rising Sun and Albany Lodge, A.F. and A.M. had selected officials for the ensuing year. 19

    CLICK HERE for the online article.

    In the Wednesday, April 12, 2006 edition of The Decatur Daily
 an article included in the Chatter Box section by Wendy N. McDougald was published recognizing Rising Sun Lodge.

    Brother Gerald Gunn, PM accepted a certificate of merit on behalf of the Lodge for helping restore the Confederate Cemetery.

CLICK HERE for the online article.

     The Friday, October 19, 2007 edition of The Decatur Daily published an article entitled Masonic Lodge In Decatur To Celebrate 180th authored by Paul Huggins. 4

    PHOTO - George Flavious Mills (May 23, 1921 - ) was Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 in 1963.  A 60-year Mason, Brother Mills was Initiated April 11, 1949, Passed May 16, 1949 and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason July 16, 1949 in Rising Sun Lodge. 


        Mills, a dashing 21 year-old piano salesman PHOTO, enlisted in the Regular Army after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He soon experienced the horrors of war by being thrust into the midst of battle and suffering the loss of his best friend.
     He was wounded by shrapnel at the Battle of the Bulge, captured and held as POW by Germany's 3rd Reich.
     George F. Mills, a Purple Heart recipient, is a PATRIOT and a true AMERICAN HERO.  He was awarded the Bronze Star and Infantry Combat Badge. His service and sacrifice for our Great Nation has been subject of magazine and newspaper articles and television interviews (LINK 1 - LINK 2 - LINK 3 -LINK 4 - LINK 5). He has been Grand Marshal of Memorial Day, Veterans Day and WW/POW Recognition Day Parades and the keynote speaker of these and many other civic events and celebrations.
     For his participation in the liberation of France, he was presented a "Chevalier" of the Order of the Legion of Honor PHOTO, an award created by Napoleon in 1802.

     Please take a few moments and let Brother Mills take you back to a time of sacrifice, strife, human suffering, courage, and his belief in God with his testimonial in this 9 segment video documentary interview which was broadcast by Alabama Public Television - WWII: Alabama Remembers.

George Mills 1     George introduces himself and describes the way he entered the war.
George Mills 2     George recalls the way in which he was taken prisoner by the Germans.
George Mills 3     George talks about his experiences in battle.
George Mills 4     George talks about the difficulties of the Battle of the Bulge.
George Mills 5     George talks about becoming accustomed to war.
George Mills 6     George recalls thinking he wouldn't make it back home.
George Mills 7     George talks about keeping in touch with the men he fought alongside with.
George Mills 8     George talks about meeting other former soldiers in the years after the war.
George Mills 9     George talks about what he learned from his war experiences.

     PHOTO - Rev. Brady Emerson McCullough, Sr. (July 17, 1923 - March 17, 2012) was a 60-year Mason as well as a 32nd Degree Mason. He was a member of Rising Sun Lodge #29, Decatur, AL; Past Master of Nunn-Oden Lodge #398 in Hartselle, Ala.; Past Master of Arrites-Oden Lodge #396 in Falkville, Ala. and Past President of the Northwest Alabama Proficiency Club.
He served in the Alabama Grand Lodge as Grand Chaplin for three years and was Grand Orator for one year.
 to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #86940511 and additional biographical information.

PHOTO - Most Worshipful Grand Master John R. Strickling (May 6, 1947 - ) was elected 2011 - 2012 Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden, 2012 -2013 Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden, 2013-2014 Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master and 2014-2015 Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of Alabama.

     He was Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 1999-2000 and served as 5th District Lecturer for a total of 7 years.
     He is a dual member with Monroe Lodge No. 189 in Woodsville, Ohio where his Father and Grandfather were Past Masters.
     Brother Strickling was Initiated 5/23/72, Passed 6/27/72 and Raised 9/26/72 in Monroe Lodge No. 189.
     Our 2014-15 Most Worshipful Grand Master is the first member of our Lodge in its 188+ year history to be elected Grand Master.

     PHOTO - Today The Masonic Building” , located at 1 Walnut Street NE, is home of Rising Sun Lodge 29Decatur York Rite Bodies, Mizpah Chapter 19 and Mary Lou Dancy Chapter 320 of the Order of the Eastern Star. 10 11

     It is the second largest lodge in Alabama in membership slightly behind Helion Lodge #1 just 20 miles away in Huntsville, Alabama.


    The Alabama Lodge of Research has many informative articles and a very well documented history of Freemasonry in Alabama on their website. 12

    Alabama Pioneers - The Alabama Genealogy Resource! 35

    The Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Jurisdiction of Alabama, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, annual communication is available as a FREE eBook. 29

    The Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of the State of Alabama has a wealth of information including the inaugural 1st Edition issue of their semi-annual newsletter "The Masonic Messenger" on their website. 13


    As 1 of 18 nationwide recipients in 2011 and 1 of 22 recipients in 2012, Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 has achieved the distinction of being awarded the Masonic Service Association of North America's Mark Twain Award for Masonic awareness in the lodge and in the community for the second consecutive year. 17


    We are very grateful for the international recognition our website has received from the Brethren of Lodge Anima 1223 in Glasgow, Scotland.  They have bestowed upon us their 2012 GREAT MASONIC WEBSITE AWARD.  From the Lodge Anima 1223 Webmaster:
        "I have had much pleasure in looking at your site and feel it more than worthy of our award….”

    Here at, we work hard to make an interesting and informative website for our Brethren and visitors.  We are proud to be recognized by for meeting these high standards and honored to receive their 2012 THE BLUES AND GRAYS OUTSTANDING SITE AWARD. 

  Our rich history, community involvement and bright future has drawn accolades near and far.  On November 11, 2012, we were awarded the Geo. Washington Past Master Award.  This award was given 8 times in 2009, 9 times in 2010, 1 time in 2011 and we are currently the only 2012 recipient.


  2. Decatur, Alabama
  38. W. Jones
  39. Source - Morgan County Archives, John Allison, Director and Phil Wirey, Historian
  40. Source - Athens Alabama Courier, 02-20, 1941
  41. Source - Masonry In Alabama by Joesph Abram Jackson - Huntsville Madison County Library
  50. From page 47 of the book The Generation of the Upright by Edward Norton Cantwell
  59. Source: Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 2
  60. Source: The Huntsville Daily Times, June 18, 1915
  61. Source: Reminiscences of public men in Alabama: for thirty years, with an appendix By William Garrett
  62. Source - Morgan County, Alabama Tid-Bits Vol. 2, a compilation of summaries from The New Decatur Advertiser - Courtesy of The Morgan County Archives, Bank Street, Decatur, Alabama
  63. Source - The Elkhart Weekly Truth, December 6, 1906
  64. Source - The Southern Reporter, Volume 46, Page 273-279. The FREE eBook is available on the website below.
  72. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 5, 1888       
  73. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County, AL, January 5, 1893
  74. Source: Banking in Alabama, 1816-1860, Volume 1 - Author: William Henderson Brantley              
  75. Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography: Volume 1 p. 475
  76. Reports of Cases at Law and in Equity: Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Alabama, Volume 4 

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by gracious permission of Brother Howie Damron

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