Bethel Grove Lodge #745

Corporation and Organization

The Bethel Grove-LaBelle Heights section flourished and grew to community status.  Growing in the minds of the many Masons living in the community was the idea of forming a new Masonic lodge which could conciliate true friendship among those whom through neighbors, might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.

For this purpose in January , 1945, a few zealous Masons, James D. Anthony, Fletcher M. Simmons, C. T. Rutherford, F. A. Flatt, J. L. Dallas and Ira C. Schaeffer, a non-affliate, met at the home of Past Master Claude E. Benney to discuss a proposed mass meeting of fellow Masons.  Shortly after this meeting, Brother Benney was taken in death to his greater reward.  His life continues to be an inspiration to all who knew and admired him, as a real Christian, a man of highest Masonic ideals and as a wonderful husban and father.

Interest in the new organization reached a peak when it learned that the Yale Baptist Church building on Boyle could be acquired as soon as the new church building could be completed.  It was through the efforts of fellow Masons Rubel Dendy and J. W. Terry working with the Board of Deacons, that the necessary information concerning the building was obtained.  This was the first real step toward organization.

At a meeting held at the church building in June, 1945, James L. Dallas was elected chairman, C. T. Rutherford, secretary, and W. C. Reddick, treasurer.  At this meeting plans were made to start proceedings toward the acquisition of the building and toward getting all information necessary to start a lodge.  The next meeting was called for the third Monday in July, at which timea report of progress was made.  Pursuant to instructions voted on at this meeting, correspondence was carried on with the Grand Lodge,  the Grand Officers residing in this jurisdiction and the other lodges in the city, and the Yale Baptist Church was approached relative to the purchase of the building.

It would be difficult to explain all the work that was done in this connection, but after several meetings and considerable correspondence, the new organization received the petition for Dispensation to be signed by all Master Masons interested in the organization of this lodge.  There were one hundred and nine Masons who signified their interest by their signatures on the document.

The October meeting was held at Rebeccah Memorial Methodist Church.  The nominating committee presented their selections for officers to serve during the year under Dispensation, provided Dispensation was granted.  The group concurred in the selection of officers presented by the committee.  They were:

Carlisle Y. Brock                    Worshipful Master
James L. Dallas                       Senior Warden
James M. Jamison                    Junior Warden
Elmo C. Freeman                   Senior Deacon
Joseph E. Brigman                   Junior Deacon
James W. Kelley                     Senior Steward
Sheldon T. Shoff                     Junior Steward
Willis C. Reddick                   Treasurer
Clarence H. Johnson              Secretary
Herman G. Krone                  Chaplain
J. C. Murphree                       Tiler
Rubel Dendy                         Trustee
Fletcher M. Simmons              Trustee
Stewart Alexander                 Trustee

Immediately following the selection, the officers accepted the responsibility of guiding the group.

It was necessary to have rehearsals in order to be examined on the proficiency of the officers in the degree work.  O.K. Hock Lodge #707 and Normal Lodge #722 graciously opened their lodges to this group and earnest work in the degrees was begun.  On December 13, 1945, officers of the organization appeared before Normal Lodge, working in the First Degree and then was judged to be satisfoactory, and consistent with the rules of procedure of Freemasonry prescribed by the Grand Lodge of the State of Tennessee.

The Junior Warden select, James Jamison, found it necessary, due to pressure of business, to resign and Frank B. Thomason was selected by the group present to fill  that position.

There was a great deal of excitement in January, when the Grand Lodge meeting was held.  C. H. Johnson, Secretary and F. B. Thomason, Junior Warden, left Memphis Sunday night, January 27, to meet with the board acting on dispensations and by-laws on Monday.  A meeting was being held at the future lodge building on Monday night and an expectant group had assembled.  The representatives arrived directly from the train to report that everything was in order and that the Grand Lodge would receive a recommendation from the committee to grant Dispensation.  J. D. Anthony, J. E. Brigman, C. Y. Brock and J. W. Kelley attended Grand Lodge session on January 30.  The work of the organization had been approved by the Grand Lodge and they found everything in readiness for granting Dispensation.  

In the meantime, during the work of the lodge organization, formation of the Bethel Grove Corporation was consummated and the purchase of the building was handled  through this organization.  The purchase of the building was made possible by members and non-affiliates  who contributed generously to the building fund.

A meeting for the presentation of the Dispensation was set for the first Monday night in February, 1946.  At that time, R. L. (Mike) Allen and Sam Blanchard, representatives of Grand Master A. B. McClure, who had been our friends and counselors since the very inception of a lodge in Bethel Grove, presented the Dispensation and placed the officers in their stations.  This was a grand climax to the tremendous amount of workd created by the ardent desire to organize this lodge.  It was a wonderful beginning for Bethel Grove Lodge U.D.F. & A.M.

The Year Under Dispensation

Members of Bethel Grove Lodge assembled in their first stated meeting February 4, 1947 at the Lodge Hall, 2341 Boyle Ave.

A representative of Grand Master A. B. McClure, R. L. (Mike) Allen, member of the Board of Custodians of the Grand Lodge, gave a resume of the work that had been done in organizing the new lodge and in an impressive presentation delivered the Dispensation.  The Dispensation, representative of diligent labor and study, authorized Bethel Grove Masons to open a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and to conduct the business of Masonry according to their best ability.

With the able assistance of Sam Blanchard, Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon, R. L. Allen gave the charge to the officers who had been selected to serve under Dispensation, and placed them in their stations.  Thirty-seven petitions for the degrees were received at this meeting.  

Throughout the month of February, 1946, Bethel Grove Lodge conducted schools of instruction twice weekly.  Committees were actively formulating plans of the year.  Consideration was given to a request received from DeSoto Chapter O.E.S. #338, asking that Bethel Grove Lodge grant permission to use the Lodge Hall for its permanent home as the Chapter was not affiliated with any Masonic Lodge.  this request was granted by vote at the stated meeting of March 4, and the Chapter accepted affiliation under the name of Bethel Grove Chapter #338.

The first initiation was held March 6 at O. K. Hock Lodge.  The first candidate to receive the degree of Entered Apprentice wa Marvin Henry Brooks, Jr.  A total of twenty-eight initiations were held during the month of March at O. K. Hock and Normal Lodge Halls.  Permission was granted by the Grand Master, A. B. McClure, to work in these halls because extensive repair and remodeling made Bethel Grove unsuitable for use.

John Herman Cole was the initial candidate for Fellowcraft degree on April 8.  Twenty-three other Fellowcraft degrees were conferred in April.

At the stated meeting, May 6, Elmo C. Freeman, Senior Deacon and J. W. Terry, Junior Steward, requested the Lodge to accept their resignations, as business prevented their giving their respective offices the time they felt to be necessary.  These vacancies were filled by advancing the line and appointing H. G. Krone to the office of Senior Steward and J. D. Anthony, Junior Steward.  Appointment of H. G. Krone left vacant the office of Chaplain.  It was later filled by the appointment of W. B. Tate to the office.

The third degree was conferred for the first time by Bethel Grove Lodge on May 14.  In order to conform with action taken at the Stated Meeting, May 6, Ira Coleman Schaeffer was the first candidate to be raised to the degree of Master Mason.  This was done in recognition of Claude Benney, who had been instrumental in initiating action which led to organization.  Ira Schaeffer, a non-affiliate, was present at the first meeting.  In further respect to Claude Benney, Memphis Lodge #118 was invited to participate in raising the first Mason in Bethel Grove Lodge.  Representatives W. H. Bonney and R. B. Gordon, Past Masters, were present and took an active part in the work.

Members of Bethel Grove Lodge were hosts at various meetings to Normal Lodge #722, Zaman Grotto and O. K. Hock Lodge #707.  Twenty-one members from Normal Lodge visited  August 8, and assisted in conferring the First Degrees.  Zaman Grotto visited September 12 and the work in the Third Degree was exemplified by their team in a very impressive manner.  The Grotto was well represented by a group of about sixty members and Bethel Grove Chapter O.E.S. served dinner.  O. K. Hock Lodge visited on October 24 for the conferring  of the Third Degree, and was represented by forty eight members.  Dinner was again served by the ladies of the Star Chapter.

The District Lecturer, C.E. (Chuck) Barber, met with the Lodge of October 23, at which time he gave instruction in some points of the work.  As a result of his examination, certificates of proficiency were recommended and granted to six members.  The Lodge received a grading of 100%.  At the stated meeting held December 2, a selection of officers was held at the direction of Thomas E. Doss, Grand Secretary.  For the first year under charter, which began in February after the Grand Lodge meeting, when the long-anticipated charter was granted, the following officers were selected to serve the Lodge:

James L. Dallas                    Worshipful Master
Frank B. Thomason              Senior Warden
Joseph E. Brigman                 Junior Warden
Ira C. Schaeffer                    Treasurer
Clarence H. Johnson             Secretary

These officers select expressed their pleasure in being selected and promised to serve to the best of their ability.

C. Y. Brock, Worshipful Master, was commended highly for the fine work he had done during the year under Dispensation, and a resolution was presented and passed that a portrait be made of him and be placed in the Lodge hall as a memorial to his services so unselfishly rendered as Master during this year.

The Grand Lodge meeting was held January 29 and 30, 1947.  The members who attended returned home with the satisfaction of knowing that the Grand Body had granted the charter and that Bethel Grove Lodge #745 F. & A.M.

As the work for the year under Dispensation came to a close, Bethel Grove Lodge reviewed its accomplishments with a great deal of pleasure.  Among other achievements, the Lodge attained a goal of 100% in contributions to the George Washington Memorial Fund, and a certificate was received from the Grand Lodge to that effect.

Pride in its achievement under Dispensation will serve as an incentive to even greater accomplishment for Bethel Grove Lodge in the coming years as a full chartered Lodge.  However, the excellent support of many who were in a position to help the Lodge is acknowledged, among whom is Thomas E. Doss, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, for his excellent advice.  To friends, the many visitors and supporters of Bethel Grove Lodge expresses heartfelt appreciation.

Bethel Grove Lodge #745 merged with Normal Lodge #722 in 2002 to form Normal-BG Lodge #722.

© Unity Lodge #95 F. & A.M. 2014