Coordinates: Latitude 34.611775/Longitude -86.98627
The Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 was organized November 22, 1826 by the eight men (left) 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).
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 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.
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.
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 (left) 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.
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.
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 (right) 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.
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 (left) 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.
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. He was elected to serve as one of the directors of the Tuscumbia, Courtland & Decatur Rail Road Company in 1833, 1834 and 1835. The (right) 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.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial # 139422537 and additional biographical information.
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.
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.
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.
Captain Robert W. Figg (1819-1891) was Junior Warden in 1839. He was Worshipful Master of Athens Lodge No. 16 in 1839. He enlisted in Company D, 9th Alabama Cavalry of the CSA and was severely wounded losing his left arm near Dover, Tennessee in 1863. He was compensated $30 cash.
The document (left) courtesy of Fold3.com.
After his parole under the penalty of DEATH as a Prisoner of War, Capt. Figg's usual profession of that as a dentist changed to that of a Justice of the Peace in Madison County, Alabama.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #8815932 and additional biographical information.
Captain Alexander Ross (1783-1849) was Senior Warden 1838-1839, and in 1841. He was Junior Warden in 1837 and from 1842-1843.
He was an early Justice of the Peace and Constable for Morgan County, and along with Michael Sensabaugh and others founded the Decatur Female Academy in the early 1840’s.
A number of Ross’ served in the Creek Indian War in the Tennessee Militia and it believed that this is where he got his title.
He is listed as the architect and builder of the first Methodist Church built in 1834 and is on the 1830 Census seen living in Madison County and on the 1840 Census he is seen living in Decatur in the vicinity of John Rhea and the McCartney Hotel with wife, four sons and three daughters.
He is buried in the Lafayette Street/Rhodes Family Cemetery in Decatur.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #11445431 and additional biographical information.
Rev. Moses Stroude Morris (1808-1849) and Dr. James H. Delony (1832-1881) Related by marriage into the Fennel family, both of these men were, at one time or another, members of Rising Sun Lodge.
Here is where the mystery deepens. On December 13, 1849, Rev. Morris was shot and killed by Dr. Delony.
The following account is transcribed from the January 1, 1850 edition of the Boston Post:
A Clergyman Killed - Rev. Moses S. Morris was shot dead recently near Decatur, Alabama by Dr. Delony. A letter says - "Parson M was met on the road by Dr. D. Parson M, observing him approaching with a gun, on horseback, stopped his horse, threw aside his blanket and bared his breast. Dr. D, supposing he was searching for a pistol, shot him dead on the spot.
Parson M was universally beloved. No defensive weapon was found on his body when the inquest was held. The difficulty, as far was ascertained, appears to have been in consequence of family discords. Delony was committed to jail to take his trial."
Lawrence S. Banks, who was then deputy sheriff, was paid $115 for expenses he incurred in the delivery of Dr. Delony to stand trial for murder. Dr. Delony was either acquitted or escaped custody into Arkansas, we know not, but, in either case, he was promptly expelled from Rising Sun Lodge and the Masonic Fraternity.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to the Find A Grave Memorial #56820880 of Rev. Moses S. Morris and additional biographical information.
Lawrence Slaughter Banks (1803-1881) was a Confederate Colonel and is buried within the Decatur city limits in Lafayette Street/Rhodes Family Cemetery also known as Lafayette Street Cemetery. He served 1 year in the Grand Lodge as Junior Grand Warden in 1829.
L. S. Banks was Justice of the Peace in Morgan County from 1830 to 1841. He was Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge in 1842. 6
With the onset of the Civil War, there were those entrepreneurs who engaged in selling goods and services to whichever army was occupying Decatur at the time. Colonel Banks was among those who sold bacon, nails, wood and lumber, metal from saw blades and rented rooms and board, wagons, mules, horses and labor. He also bartered the essential staple WHISKEY for $14 a gallon. At today's prices, that inflates to a whopping $328 a gallon before any state or federal taxes!
The document (right) courtesy of Fold3.com.
In 1870, L. S. Banks painted a survey or layout of Decatur, Alabama on a pane of glass. For many years it was displayed in the Decatur City Hall. It now is in possession of the Banks family.
The image (left) courtesy of The Morgan County Archives. All Rights Reserved.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #13282184 and additional biographical information.
William Gibbs Dorris (1815-1900) was Worshipful Master 1843-44 and again in 1846-48. He was said to be the most popular man in Morgan County and was at one time a judge in one of the courts. He went into the dry goods business in Decatur with his brother-in-law James Cain and was very successful. They began speculating in cotton which was a failure and broke them up. He joined the Masons in 1840 and again entered into the dry goods business with Charlie Lane and was very successful. He was a man with graceful personal carriage and "possessing a strikingly handsome face" and becoming a Methodist preacher he entered the Tennessee Conference in October 1849 moving to Nashville in the 50's.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #87672306 and additional biographical information.
Grand Lodge returns for 1844 reveal that the Lodge was paying for educating 2 orphan children, daughters of a deceased Brother.
C. W. McCord (1810-1890) was Junior Warden in 1843-44 and Worshipful Master in 1845. Born, raised and educated in Tennessee, he moved to North Alabama. Campbell Washington McCord then migrated west to Mississippi in 1846 where he engaged in several business ventures before finally moving his store to the business center of Corinth. He later disposed of the store and entered politics serving the Mississippi State Legislature for 5 or 6 years. He filled the position of county school commissioner in 1860-61. After the conclusion of the Civil War, he served as Justice of the Peace for several terms.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial # 112240425 and additional biographical information.
Alexander A. McCartney (1800-1860) was Junior Warden in 1845, Senior Warden in 1849 and served again as Junior Warden in 1850.
In 1832 he established the first newspaper in Moulton, Alabama, The Moulton Whig. He sold the newspaper and acquired considerable property. 48
He moved to Decatur and established a hotel and tavern prior to 1840 commonly known as the "Decatur Inn". After his death, his wife continued to operate the business as the "McCartney Hotel" and "McCartney House".
During the War Between the States, the building was used by both the Confederacy and Union Army as headquarters and officer quarters.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #39552922 and additional biographical information.
Dr. William E. Murphy (1819-1889) was Worshipful Master from 1849 to 1851, and in 1854, 1855 and 1859. He was Junior Warden in 1848 and in 1858.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #20812498 and additional biographical information.
Grand Lodge records reveal that the Lodge was consumed by fire and destroyed in 1851.
Major James S. Brittain (also spelled Britain) (1815-1887) served Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 as officer for 11 terms; as Junior Warden in 1852, 1854 and in 1863; as Senior Warden 1859-60, 1862 and from 1865-66; as Worshipful Master from 1856-57 and in 1872.
During the War Between the States, he enlisted in 1861 in Decatur, Alabama. He was wounded in Gettysburg, Pa. in 1863 "on the first day".
The following article appeared in The Alabama Enquirer, February 16, 1888:
MAJOR JAMES S. BRITAIN - This gentleman was in the procession that followed the remains of Mr. Kimbell to the grave and with other brethren cast into his grave the symbol of immortality, little dreaming that he would so soon be buried by many of the same brethren.
Major Britain was born near Sparta, Tenn., Nov. 15th, 1815, and died of pneumonia, Dec 2nd, 1887, aged 72 years.
The Major was not a member of any church, but was always punctual in his attendance at religious worship, was a good Sunday school teacher, was strict in keeping the commandments, so far as any of us know, was honest, upright and just, he was solicitous as to the education of his own and other children of his neighborhood, he suffered much, but was patient. He married late in life, Miss Sallie Benham, who with three sons and three daughters, survives him.
His funeral service was preached by Rev. J. Gunn, his dust reposes in the Morris Cemetery on Trinity Mountain.
It should have been remarked that Major Britain was for many years, Master of Rising Sun Lodge F. and A. Masons at Decatur, and that he was among the first to volunteer in the services of his state, and that there was no better or truer soldier than he.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #35733779 and additional biographical information.
William P. Stradford (also spelled Stratford) (1835-1898) was Worshipful Master in 1858 and Junior Warden in 1860 and 1862.
W. P. Stradford, Company I, 7th Regiment Alabama Cavalry, enlisted September 15, 1862 at Decatur, Alabama by Capt. R. W. Figg for 3 years. He was wounded in Winston County, Ala. and sent to hospital at Decatur, Ala. August 28, 1863. He lost his left arm at the elbow and received $30.12 compensation. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant January 20, 1864 for Valor and Skill.
After the war, he kept water levels on the south side of the O'Neal Bridge crossing the Tennessee River at Sheffield (South Florence) for Southern Rail Road.
After 1880, he moved to Bessemer and became a Jefferson County Commissioner. He died one Sunday morning on his way to church on horseback. It appears he had a stroke and was dead when he hit the ground. At the time of his death, he was a member of Bessemer Lodge No. 386.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #92799208 and additional biographical information.
The North Alabama Steamboat Company was incorporated in 1861 with Mathew Mahan and Pleasant Todd as two of the Commissioners. Mahan and Todd were members of Rising Sun and were Captains of steamboats delivering passengers, mail, cotton and other goods between the Shoals and Chattanooga and the upper Tennessee River system.
Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 is included in the list of Alabama lodges in 1858. 16
The Memphis & Charleston Railroad Bridge across the Tennessee River at Decatur was burned by 1st Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War.
The August 16, 1862 issue of Harper's Weekly published the drawing (near left) entitled THE WAR IN NORTH ALABAMA—BURNING THE BRIDGE OVER THE TENNESSEE, AT DECATUR.—Sketched By Mr. H. Hubner - Third Ohio Volunteers. All rights reserved.
The lithograph (far left) depicting this event is dated September 13, 1862. Both images offer views from the north side of the Tennessee River across and in a southwesterly direction. The (above far left) photo shows the breastworks construction. Arrow 1 is the Old State Bank and arrow 3 is the McCartney Inn in the foreground. Some historians believe arrow 2 points to the actual building Rising Sun Lodge No. 29. occupied until it was destroyed by Union troops in 1864. The drawing (near left) illustrates the pontoon bridge constructed across the Tennessee River and offers a view of the buildings left standing in Decatur in late 1862. It is very probable that the Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 building is illustrated on one or all of these illustrations (especially the top left photograph) as the Lodge was not destroyed until late in 1864.
CLICK HERE to more closely examine the far left lithograph on the ADAH Digital Collections website. All rights reserved.
During the Civil War, Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 was destroyed November 25, 1864 by United States troops.
When the Federal Troops came through the South, there was unbelievable destruction. For example, Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 was permitted "to hold Lodge meetings in any convenient place they may select in the neighborhood until such time at the Lodge may be able to rebuild their Lodge Room, it having been destroyed by the Enemy."
Dr. C. F. M. Dancy (1814-1875) was Junior Warden in 1847, 1859 and again in 1865. He served as Senior Warden in 1845 and 1863.
Charles Fenton Mercer Dancy was born of Hueugnot ancestors who belonged to French nobility. He was educated at La Grange college, studied medicine in Nashville and New Orleans and set up practice in Decatur.
When a youth he served in the Mexican War and received land grants from Texas for his services.
After the taking of Decatur by the enemy, Dr. Dancy was required to serve in Federal hospitals.
Prior to the War of Secession he was a Whig but later affiliated with the Democratic Party.
His wife, Sarah Dandridge, was the daughter of General Jesse Winston Garth.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #21589916 and additional biographical information.
R. L. Neely (1821-1865) joined RSL29 in 1860 and was its Junior Deacon in 1863 before going off to war.
Our records reveal that he died as a Prisoner of War in Camp Chase, Ohio. He is the only member of our Lodge we can establish as having perished as a result of defending the Confederacy during the War of Northern Aggression.
Sergt. R. L. Neely, CSA, Company D, 7th Alabama Cavalry, died on March 27, 1865. His marker number is 1764.
Camp Chase was established May 1861 in Columbus, Ohio as a training camp for Ohio volunteer soldiers, a parole camp, a muster outpost and a prisoner of war camp. All that remains of the camp today is a Confederate cemetery containing 2,260 graves of Confederate prisoners of war.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #74948263 and additional biographical information.
James McGinnis Brundidge (1812-1901) was Worshipful Master of Rising Sun Lodge 1862-1869 and again in 1871.
He was initiated April 16, 1838, in Athens Lodge No. 16, Passed January 4, 1840, and Raised January 18, 1840 in Helion Lodge No. 1, in Huntsville, Ala.
He was Worshipful Master of Athens Lodge No. 16 from 1845 through 1847.
He was superintendent of the brick work in the construction of Athens College 1843-1844.
Much of Athens State University remains in physical evidence and in legend. A local tale has it that a jug of whiskey was left behind during the construction of the four large columns that grace the front of the building.
The following appeared in the 1901 obituary of HMWPGM Brundidge, brickwork superintendent of the 1842 construction:
In that day it was usual for the workmen to have whiskey on all the buildings and he carried one there early one morning and, setting it down in the bottom of a column went to work. [He forgot about it as the work continued.] Soon the brickwork was so high that it was impossible to get the bottle out without taking down a large part of the work and the stuff was just too cheap in the good old days to do that. He just left it there and there it remains (Dunnavant 1995, p 26-27)."
During this period, when the school was under the aegis of the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church, the four columns were nicknamed for the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in order from the north to the south. The location of the hidden jug is also the subject of some dispute. The most common location for the jug is said to be in Matthew but other sources claim it is in Luke. Whatever the source or location, the legend of the lost jug of whiskey remains prevalent in the lore of Founders Hall. There's no telling which disciple now has custody of the well-aged whiskey.
The lost jug of whiskey is more than just curious artifact. It also has been suggested that the lost jug serves a nothing less than the motivation for the ghost of Founders Hall. The ghost, it is said, is the brick mason obsessed with protecting the jug from those who would plunder it for their own enjoyment.
He was elected Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge in 1848 and annually thereafter until 1854. He was elected Junior Grand Warden in 1862 and in 1863 refused further advancement.
During the War Between The States, he enlisted as a private in Fennell's Morgan County Rangers Company of Home Guards.
In 1889 the office of State Grand Lecturer was created to which he was appointed held the position until the time of his death.
The 79th Annual Communication was held in Montgomery, Ala. on December 4-5, 1899. The title of Honorary Grand Master was bestowed, by unanimous vote, upon Brother James M. Brundidge, Grand Lecturer, and the oldest member of the Grand Lodge then living. This is the first time that such honorary distinction has been bestowed in Alabama and is not to be cited as a precedent for similar action hereafter. The honor was, in this instance, worthily given.
Upon the venerable and dearly beloved State Grand Lecturer R.W. Bro. James M. Brundidge’s entrance the Grand Lodge Hall, a souvenir of this memorable and important epoch in the history of Alabama Masonry had been prepared.
1000 badges with a ribbon from which suspended a medallion pendant bearing the likeness of Brundidge were distributed and worn during the proceedings. Somerville Lodge #721 proudly displays one of these in their Archives and the Alabama Grand Lodge in Prattville has two in their Library Museum.
At the 85th Annual Grand Communication held in Montgomery, Ala. on December 5-6, 1905, it was recorded that "In addition to placing a bust of the late State Grand Lecturer Brother James M. Brundage (sp.) in the library of the Grand Lodge, as mentioned in our report two years ago, a suitable monument has been erected on his grave."
The photos (upper right) are courtesy of Claude Neal Hudson. All rights reserved.
The photo below on the far right has been donated to Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 by Ellen S. Butler in honor of her Father, James E. Latane Sutherland. A copy of this photo resides in the Morgan County Archives - Bank Street, Decatur, Al. All rights reserved.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #93019063 and additional biographical information.
Dr. Jacob Young Cantwell (1824-1883) was elected Senior Warden in 1867 and again in 1871.
J. Y. Cantwell graduated in medicine from Cleveland Medical College in 1847 and practiced in Mansfield, Ohio.
Ohio Regimental Lodges were issued during the Civil War. Dr. Jacob Cantwell was Worshipful Master of Pioneer No. 4 in Ohio and also Deputy Grand Master of the Ohio Grand Lodge. The Senior Warden was his brother James who was killed at the Second Bull Run Aug. 29, 1862.
On April 15, 1861 he entered the medical department of the Union Army as Surgeon of the 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
When his brother, Col. James Cantwell, organized the 82nd regiment, he was made Surgeon.
He was severely wounded, shot through the thigh, at the battle of Cross Keys, VA on June 8, 1862.
He was in active service in the field until December 1863, filling the office of Brigade, Division and Crops Surgeon. He was under fire in 20 battles in all of which he officiated as Operating Surgeon.
In January, 1864, he was commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln as Surgeon of the U.S. Volunteers and was assigned to duty by the Surgeon General as inspector of hospitals with headquarters at Washington. By recommendation of the Surgeon General he was brevetted Lt. Col. forMeritorious Service.
After the war he moved to Decatur, Alabama and, in addition to his usual profession as a Doctor, he became interested in business and planting.
The Old State Bank Building, still bearing the scars of Civil War minié balls and shrapnel, became the residence and office of Dr. Cantwell.
The May 23, 1878 edition of The Southern Immigrant newspaper reported the following:
Part of the old bank, owned by Dr. Cantwell, fell this evening burying beneath the ruins Dr. Ward, T. C. Walden, Clark Hansell and Banister Locke. The Decatur Decatur "News" office was in the second story, and is a complete wreck. All escaped with slight bruises excepting Locke and Ward who were seriously injured. The loss will reach $2500.
There continues to exist a legend that a $250,000 Union payroll is buried on the property.
After his death the building began to fall into disrepair and his grand niece, Mrs. W. B. Edmundson, deeded the building over to the City of Decatur in 1933.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #20277944 and additional biographical information.
Jasper N. Wade (1832-1893) served as Junior Warden in 1867, Senior Warden 1868-69 and Worshipful Master in 1870. He served the CSA as 2nd Lieutenant in the War Between the States. Jasper N. Wade and Belton O. Nabors were special favorites of Brigade, Division and Corps Commanders for perilous scouting service. He was elected as Worshipful Master of Trinity Lodge No. 386 in 1874 and was Justice of the Peace in Morgan County, Alabama in 1878.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #53939805 and additional biographical information.
A Watercolor Illustrated and painted by M.D. Henry in 1950
Absalom Leonidas Davis (1833-1922) was Rising Sun Lodge’s Chaplin in 1867 as well as the son-in-law of James Fennel, the 2nd Worshipful Master of this Lodge. Davis was a Methodist Minister.
Forest Home was a 500-acre, 19th century plantation, where Ann Fennel Davis and her husband, Absalom Leonidas Davis, a scholarly academic, lived and she gardened with their free and enslaved workers.
The main house at Forest Home, completed in 1857, had not been inhabited for many years before it burned to the ground one hot, dry weekend in October 1991.
The land is now an upscale, 21st century, residential development named Forest Home Estates. The surrounding community was and is Trinity, Alabama.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #14985358 and additional biographical information.
John B. Stuart (1825-1903) was Junior Warden in 1872. He was born in Morgan County, learned the carpenter’s trade while a young man, and at the age of eighteen years embarked in mercantile business. He came to Decatur in 1842, and two years later, moved to Somerville.
In 1851 he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court; in 1858 he was a traveling man and, in 1861, resumed the mercantile business at Somerville.
In the spring of 1862 he joined Company H, Twenty-seventh Alabama, and was soon afterward made its Captain. At Fort Donelson he fell into the hands of the enemy and was held many months as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, and at Johnson’s Island. After his exchange, which took place in September following his capture, he took part in the battles of Corinth, Baker’s Creek, Resaca, Cassville, Lost Mountain and Atlanta. During General John Bell Hood’s raid into Tennessee, he had charge of a scouting party, and at the head of about one hundred rangers met General James H. Wilson at Elyton (now part of Birmingham). This engagement proved decidedly unfortunate, as he lost all his command.
After the war he returned to Decatur, where he has since been one of the most successful merchants of this place
The following are excerpts from newly discovered letters from Camp Chase prisoners:
From 1st Lt. Peter Barker, Mess 58, Prison 8, April 21st 1862:
I am in very good helth 15 of ous in a mess all tolerabel well with the exception of Capt John Stuart of Morgan Co.
I have had mups I was vaxenated it had vary good effect we have sinc the first of this mont 4 cases of small pox but……
From Capt. J. B. Stuart, Mess 58, Prison 3, April 21st 1862:
……I am quite lame yet from an attack of Rheumatism.
......I think if I could get out of this prison and a bed to sleep on in place of a hard plank I will improve fast. Our prison is verry damp and the house we are in leaks verry bad. It rains all night and the floor is wet all over there is nothing but a plank rood on it…….
……I have a list of all that are dead that I know of……
……You must take good care of your self & send the children to school……
……We have bin unlucky to some extent but live in hope. My mess is all verry cleaver to me in my sickness. As kind as brothers and the ties made here cannot be loosed until death……
……Tell all my friends to write me as this life is verry monotonous. My respects to all inquiring friends. Kiss the children for me & accept one your self.
In 1888, Capt. J. B. Stuart contracted Yellow Jack (as yellow fever was commonly called) while attending his son who died of the dreaded disease. Capt. Stuart’s case is light and he is expected to recover.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial # 59306687 and additional biographical information.
Joseph S. Sugars (1845-1892) served as Senior Warden from 1872-1874, and as Worshipful Master 1875, 1876 and again in 1887.
He was born in Decatur, May 12, 1845, and was reared and received his education at the common schools of this place.
In the fall of 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army, in Company E, First Alabama Cavalry,and was detailed on special duty in General Roddy's Escort. He was in the engagements at Pond Springs and continuous skirmishes in front of Wilson. He was present at the battles of Harrisburg and Tupelo, Miss., East Point, Ga., and the siege of Atlanta, which was his last battle in the war. He was at Montgomery at the time it surrendered, and at once returned to his father's farm, where he remained about two years.
He then came to Decatur, and as a member of the firm of Levy, Sugars & Son, Jewelers, met with good success.
He is a director in the North Alabama Oil and Asphalt Company, of Birmingham, Ala., and owns considerable property in Decatur.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #66875189 and additional biographical information.
Prior to the early 1870’s, it is not known exactly where meetings were held. It has been discovered that meetings were held in several different places, most likely ranging from individual members homes, to other buildings as they became available. Records do reveal that sometime around 1873, however, a Lodge was built on the northwest corner of Bank Street and Pond Street, (Pond Street is now Wilson Street), and this is where regular meetings occurred until approximately 1876, when that building caught fire and burned to the ground.
Brother James M. Brundidge offered the following resolution during the proceedings of the annual communications of the Grand Lodge in 1876 and it was adopted;
Relief of Rising Sun Lodge, No. 29: Reached, That Rising Sun Lodge, No. 29, at Decatur, having, on the 7th of November, lost by fire it's charter, jewels and furniture; a new charter is hereby granted to said Lodge, free of charge and it's dues for the present year remitted.
After this Lodge burned down, Rising Sun Lodge moved it’s location to a two-story building owned by Brother R. P. Baker, which was just down the block on the corner of Bank Street and Market Street. This building was closer to the river, and served as Rising Sun’s designated Lodge for several years.
In 1877 James M. Brundidge represented Rising Sun Lodge 29 at Grand Lodge in Montgomery, Ala
George D. Mentz (1845-1909) was Worshipful Master of RSL29 in 1877 and 1878. He was also elected Mayor of Decatur in 1878 by 31 votes.
His tenure of both offices was especially challenging because of the deadly yellow fever outbreak of 1878.
CLICK HERE to be re-directed to his Find A Grave Memorial #189809742 and additional biographical information.
The first of two major yellow fever epidemics struck Decatur in 1878 with 58 confirmed deaths and the membership of Rising Sun Lodge 29 escaped not.
The November 23, 1878 edition of the Decatur News published the following:
Masonic Tribute - Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 Free and Accepted Masons, mourns the loss of an honored and highly esteemed member, The Rev. Joel W. Whitten, late pastor of the Methodist Church, South, in Decatur, died of yellow fever on Sunday morning, October 28th.
CLICK HERE to be redirected to his Find A Grave Memorial #52999250 and additional biographical information.
On December 2, 1878, it was resolved at Grand Lodge "That The Dues of Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 be remitted for the present year, that lodge having suffered severely on account of the yellow fever."
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.
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.