1826-1840

     
Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 F. & A. M. is a Masonic Lodge located at 1 Walnut Street NE in Decatur, Alabama 35601. 1 2

Coordinates: Latitude 34.611775/Longitude  -86.98627


HISTORY 


    The Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 was organized November 22, 1826 with the below signed as petitioners to the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of the State of Alabama.

 

    Dr. Henry W. Rhodes
 (abt. 1788-1855) was a member of the Dancy and Sykes families through his marriage to Martha Mason Dancy in 1812.
    Dr. Rhodes owned the site of a ferry landing crossing the Tennessee River at an old Indian trail. He owned the land on the south side of the river which was known as Rhodes Ferry Landing. He operated this ferry from or before 1818 when this area was established by Alabama Territorial Legislature as Cotaco County (renamed Morgan County in 1821).
    In June 1820, he and the other members of the Decatur Land Company (Jesse Winston Garth, McKinney Holderness, Isaac Lane, and George Peck) received patents for the land on which they would build the town of Decatur. They would become known as the Founders of Decatur, Alabama.
    Dr. Rhodes was the first postmaster of Decatur.
    On November 22, 1826, Dr. Rhodes, William Francis Dancy, Col. Isaac Lane, William Dancy, James T. Sykes, Gaius Kibby, Joseph Hersy, Joseph Adkins organized a Masonic Lodge which would be chartered in 1828 as “The Rising Sun”.
    The next month, the town of Decatur was incorporated December 8, 1826 by an act of the legislature.
    Dr. Rhodes was Morgan County’s 1826, 1832 and 1835 Representative in the Alabama Legislature.
    He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and served from 1828-30.
    He was a charter member on the Board of Directors of the Tuscumbia, Courtland & Decatur Railroad.
    He was one of the first directors of the Decatur Branch of the Alabama State Bank (Old State Bank).

    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to the Henry W. Rhodes Facebook Family Tree page.

 



    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #129964087 and additional biographical information.
   
   
 Col. Francis Dancy (1780-1849) was the first Worshipful Master of The Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 serving 3 terms (1827-28-29). 4
    Col. Dancy built the Dancy-Polk house which survived the War Between The States and it is listed in the National Register of Historical Places in Morgan County, Alabama 22 and it yet stands until this day.
    Col. Dancy moved to Franklin, LA where he established a sugar cane plantation.
    It is believed that he was a member of Franklin Lodge No. 57 in St. Mary's Parish.  This Lodge was the first Lodge in Louisiana to speak English as all were speaking French until then.
    At his death he received Masonic Rites at his funeral. He is believed to be buried on the Dancy Plantation grounds.

 

    William Dancy (1780-1836) was Junior Warden in 1827 and 1828. He was the son of Francis Dancy and Mary Winfield Mason Dancy and husband of Priscilla Turner. 
 His sisters were Martha Mason Dancy, who married Dr. Henry Rhodes and Sarah "Sallie" Dancy who married Colonel James Turner Sykes. Through his mother he was a first cousin of General Winfield Scott who removed the Cherokees from TN, NC, GA and AL in the 1830's.21
    Capt. Dancy was a Justice of the Peace in Morgan County in the 1820's and 30's.
    
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #32462637 and additional biographical information.

    Rising Sun Lodge had 16 members in 1829.

     James Fennel (1803-1849) was the second Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 in 1830.
    His Trinity, Alabama plantation quarry was used to build the 5 limestone columns for the Decatur Branch of the Alabama State Bank.
    The dedication of this structure proved a gala occasion. Among the notables present was Martin Van Buren, President of the United States.
     
The slaves who had hewn the columns appeared in shackles and in a dramatic ceremony were given their freedom by their master, James Fennel, for their great accomplishment.
    James Fennel was one of the twelve yearly elected Directors of the Decatur Branch of the Alabama State Bank from 1833 to 1837 and the president of the bank in 1842.
     He served as one of the Directors of the Tuscumbia-Courtland & Decatur Railroad. 76
     In the 1950s, famous Alabama artist Eleanor Massey Bridges was commissioned to paint an 35-foot x 18-foot mural depicting Fennel, the Dedication of the State Bank Building and the freeing of the slaves in Decatur.
     The Old State Bank, when privately owned, was known as Leila Cantwell Seton Hall and is now a museum. The mural was displayed in the rotunda and is now in storage awaiting restoration evaluation.
     Photo below courtesy of Morgan County Archives. All rights reserved.

 

    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #16867052 and additional biographical information.

   Isaac Lane (1787-1862) was Senior Warden in 1827-28 and 1831. He was Junior Warden in 1829-30.  He was the 4th Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 in 1832 and served 1 year in the Alabama Grand Lodge as Senior Grand Warden in 1833. 34
    
In July, 1821, members of the Decatur Land Company (Dr. Henry Rhodes, Jesse Winston Garth, McKinney Holderness, Isaac Lane, and George Peck) receive patents for the land on which they would build the town of Decatur. 36
    He served as Morgan County's Representative to the Alabama Legislature in 1834.
    In 1851, Alabama's most successful portrait artist, William Frye from Huntsville, painted an antebellum 12-foot x 9-foot oil canvas of the Lane family at Lane Spring.  Left to Right: Noah (their servant), Henry Clay (their horse), Col. Isaac Lane, Mary Pride Lane (his wife) and their poodle Venus.  The background is a pastoral landscape.  Mrs. Lane's in a black gown with white organdie collar and bonnet.  Saddle is rich luggage tan over a double blanket of dark red and blue.  Noah's coat is tan over black pants with short black jacket.  Unfortunately, the painting was consumed by fire.
    Photo below courtesy of Collier Library, Archives and Special Collections - The University of North Alabama, Florence.  All rights reserved
.

 

    CLICK HERE for the article "Lane among Colbert's first big land owners" from the Times Daily (Florence) on October 6, 2005.
    
CLICK HERE to enjoy the 14-page booklet compilation "My Colbert County Families" that sheds more light on the life of one of Decatur's founding fathers.
    This booklet courtesy of Collier Library, Archives and Special Collections - The University of North Alabama, Florence.  All rights reserved.
    
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial # 40788681 and additional biographical information.

     Rising Sun Lodge had 14 members  in 1834.

     General Jesse Winston Garth (1788-1867) was Treasurer of Rising Sun Lodge in 1829 and Secretary in 1834.
    As one of the founders of Decatur, Garth, Isaac Lane, McKinney Holderness, George Peck (given credit as being Decatur's first regular merchant, died in 1826) and Dr. Henry Rhodes were the first directors of Decatur Land Co., which laid out the city's streets. Unlike the others who moved away, Garth settled in Cotaco County (now Morgan County) and through his own sagacity built one of the largest plantations in Morgan County.
    
He was elected President of the Decatur Branch of the Alabama State Bank in 1840. 74
    Garth had the biggest impact on Decatur and by July 1818, he had recorded almost 1,500 acres in Morgan County. An 1837 survey map shows Garth's home is the only structure within miles of Decatur.
    From the 1830 and 1850 Census and Land Records he owned 136 slaves in 1830 and 189 slaves in 1850 and various land holdings in Alabama and Mississippi including all of section 24 and 25 in Decatur. 
    He was a veteran of the War of 1812 having served on the coast with the Virginia militia where he received the rank of general.
   
 As well as being a large plantation owner, he practiced law, one of the first directors of the Old State Bank and later president in 1838, state senator for Morgan County, and although he dined with many Confederate Generals and Presidents was against the succession from the Union in 1861.
    Physically, Gen. Garth was a splendid type of the Virginian from the Piedmont region.  He was tall, erect, being six feet four inches in height, a man of action rather than words; and whilst he was singularly retiring and unobtrusive in his manners and habits, there were few men so positive and self-reliant. Deficient in those little arts by which a transient and ephemeral popularity is won, he commanded the entire confidence and esteem of all with whom he came in contact.      
   

        

     CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #21546755 and additional biographical information.

    William Darwin (1799-1838) was Junior Warden in 1831, Senior Warden in 1832 and again in 1837, and Worshipful Master in 1833 and 1834.
    He was James Fennel's brother-in-law having married his sister, Celia.
    The image below is of a Land Deed for a little over 40 acres in Madison County, Alabama to William Darwin signed October 14, 1834.  It furthermore states:
        
In testimony whereof, I, Andrew Jackson, President of the United States
        of America
, have caused these Letters to be made 
Patent and the Seal of the
        General Land Office to be hereunto affixed.

 

    CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #16879694 and additional biographical information.

    Horace Green (abt 1789-????) was Senior Warden in 1833 and 1834.  Green was elected President of the Decatur Branch of the Alabama State Bank in 1835, 1837 and 1839. 74 

    Nathan Kimbell (1786-1849) was Senior Warden in 1830.  The following was published in THE NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE:
        Tribute of Respect for Rev. Nathan Kimbell who died March 31, 1849; by his Masonic Lodge.  He was born in Warren Co., N.C., May 8, 1786; began his Methodist ministry in 1808; married Sarah Peyton, Feb. 23, 1812, Cumberland Co., N.C.; from the time of his marriage he was a local Methodist preacher; died in Alabama.

    Colonel J. T. Sykes (Abt 1794-????) was Senior Warden in 1829, Worshipful Master in 1831 and 1838 and served again as Senior Warden in 1842.
    James Turner Sykes lived about six miles west of Decatur - was a tall, handsome man; commanded a regiment in the
 War of 1812, and was stationed at Norfolk, Va.
    He married Sarah "Sallie" Dancy which made William Francis Dancy his brother-in-law.
    
He was a member of the Legislature in 1828, was president of the Branch Bank at Decatur for many years, and was, generally, a leading citizen. 71

    He was elected to serve as one of the directors of the Tuscumbia, Courtland & Decatur Rail Road Company in 1833, 1834 and 1835.
    The below is an image of the original stock certificate, No. 10, of James T. Sykes' $2500 investment (25 shares).  It is dated A.D. July 13, 1836 and signed by Benjamin Sherrod, President of the TC&D RR Company.


     R. A. High (????-1842) was Junior Warden in 1833.  Robert A. High moved to Limestone County and at the sessions of 1838 and 1839 served as Representative in the Alabama Legislature.
    He had acquired large property, and was a zealous advocate of common schools.  At the time he served in the Capitol, he was a dashing widower, seeking his fourth wife.
    His head was a little bald, a fact which he took great pains to conceal.  He was restless in his movements and generally had a supply of apples and goober-peas in his hands. 61     
    He married thrice widowed Elizabeth Dale Gibbson Flanagan Jeffries. She was a fair-skinned, auburn-haired seductress with an unusual beauty who posed a threat to women everywhere when men were scarce and a woman was defined by her husband.
    High lived only a few years after his marriage to Mrs. Jeffries on May 15, 1839, dying in April, 1842, penniless and without a will.

    Little did he realize his widow would become known as the Black Widow of Hazel Green and that his demise, as well as premature deaths of her other 5 husbands, her father and her 7 year-old daughter, would be the subject of rumors and gossip for over a century and a half that continues until this very day – especially around Halloween. 
    
    A Masonic Hall was built in 1834, the lower floor being used for church and school purposes. 5 75

    The first church in Decatur, a Methodist, was built in 1835.

     Riley S. Davis
 (????-1860) was Junior Deacon in 1834. He served in the Alabama Legislature 1835, 1836 and 1837.
    Davis died in 1860 without a will and his estate was settled by the Sheriff of Morgan County.
    Davis had owned 16 slaves and, after his death, the slaves were rented out to various people around the county and $493 was uncollected.
    One hundred forty nine years after Davis’ death,  $493 in nearly mint , mostly uncirculated, hand signed and hand cut bills Confederate bills were discovered in Davis' file in the Morgan County Archives. Morgan County Archivist John Allison believes the Confederate money was inserted into the file to balance the account in the settlement of the estate.


    

The Masonic Ring by gracious permission of Brother Howie Damron
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