[NOTE: WB Seth Cates and Bro. Sammy Graham contributed
significantly to this article]
Dallas Lodge No. 182 has a long, interesting, and honorable history.
It received its Charter in 1853 from the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A. M. The City of Dallas, GA received its charter from the State of Georgia in 1854. It was named the County Seat of Paulding County, after Paulding was formed in 1853.
The founders of the Lodge were most likely from the eastwardly adjacent Cobb County, or Fulton County (where Atlanta is situated). We know the names of the Charter Members and Officers from Grand Lodge records. What we don't know is from what Lodge(s) they migrated, or where they met.
The early records of the Lodge are lost, although there is hope that they or part of them may be found someday. It is said that the Lodge began to meet as a Chartered entity shortly after receiving its Charter in a wooden building north of the present location of the Lodge. Perhaps it was in one of the small "courthouses" or "courtrooms" scattered about the County, which were used as voting locations. Or maybe the Charter Members erected a small building to serve as their Lodge. We just don't know.
The Charter Members of the lodge were Uriah Mathus, or Matthews, WM, C.S. Jenkins, SW, E.B. Wood, JW, W.J. Chastain, SD, S.L. Strickland, JD, W.J. Wardlaw, Treas., M.O. Hutchins, Sec'y., Geo. W. Foster, SS, Z.B. Craig, JS, Geo. T. Parler. Tyler, and N.A. Lester, A.Y. Sheats, Joseph McMinn, W.J. Dyar, and D.W. Norton. The next year, 15 Brothers were Raised in Dallas Lodge No. 182.
In 1854 a 2 story brick County Courthouse (Building A) was erected in downtown Dallas, on the spot where the the Lodge now sits.
All space in this building was occupied by the judicial and administrative officers and staff of the County, as well as the Courtroom, and so we are relatively certain that the Lodge did not meet there. Where the Lodge met between the time it received its Charter in 1853 until it began meeting in the old Courthouse (Bldg. A) in 1892 is unknown. Various sources lead us to believe that the Lodge met in at least 3 locations prior to 1892. One of these locations we believe to be on the NE corner of the Public Square.
The accompanying story has one error in it, that being that the Lodge building burned
in 1922. The correct date is 1924(Newspaper clipping courtesy of Mrs. Jeannette Graham and her son, Brother Sammy Graham, and the Dallas New Era)
The Lodge's history has been marked by many defining moments. Some of these events have been lost to the ravages of fire and destruction; others, as is the case with many Masonic Lodges, have simply never been recorded, either through oversight or because of circumspection.
Bldg. A, with Bldg. B (the "new" Court House built in 1892) in the right background. Brother Sammy Graham has pinned down the date of this photo to between 1898 and 1899, and has also identified many of those in the photo.
Needless to say, THE defining event was when the Founders of the Lodge decided that Dallas needed a Masonic Lodge, and acted upon that conviction. Dallas at that time (1852-53) was not yet an incorporated city. The area was still somewhat wild and lawless. But the zeal for the Fraternity, coupled with the desire for Brotherhood, goodwill, charity and harmony compelled our Founders to do whatever was necessary to obtain a Charter from Grand Lodge, elect Officers, and begin meeting as Dallas Lodge No. 182. A small group of Masons put down the roots from which our Lodge would draw sustenance over the next 163 years.
The 15 or 20 years following its founding tested the resolve of our Lodge's members. Certainly there were the problems that confront most new Lodges: gaining enough membership to financially sustain the Lodge, as well as obtaining and maintaining a meeting place. But the War of Northern Aggression, which began only 7 years after its founding, must have greatly compounded those challenges. The particulars of how the Lodge met and surmounted obstacle after obstacle during that time and for a long period afterwards are lost; we have only the briefest mention in the surviving minutes of the turmoil and destruction wrought upon society in general and our Lodge in particular during that time. The City of Dallas was for a time literally in the center of a wasteful whirlwind of violence, bloodshed, tears, and lifelong deprivation that the War brought upon our land. Through it all Dallas Lodge No. 182 stood tall.
There would be other trials and depressing years in the Lodge's history, but surely none would compare to those days and years of physical annihilation, starvation, and "outside" economic exploitation.
In 1892, a new, larger County Courthouse (Building B) was built across the street (North of) from the old Courthouse (Building A). Building A now became home to some office spaces, and Dallas Lodge No. 182 purchased the top floor of this building and began meeting upstairs.
And so it went for 32 years. Then, on the night or early morning of July 26/27, 1924, sometime after the regular communication of Dallas Lodge No. 182, which was at that time held on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, fire gutted Building A. Some of the walls were left standing, but apparently most of the Furniture of the Lodge was consumed by the blaze. Sadly, we must assume that all of the Lodge minutes were also destroyed.*
In 1924/25, the Lodge purchased the lot from the County where the old Courthouse had sat and constructed a new building there (Bldg. C, the building that is presently occupied by the Lodge) and began meeting in the top floor. Shortly thereafter, in about 1927, the Lodge furnished the bottom floor and leased part of it to the United States Postal Service for their use as Post Office for the City of Dallas. There were some other tenants during this period - attorneys, contractors, etc.
The Post Office continued to lease the bottom floor in 10 year increments until about 1957. Brother Graham and no doubt many other Brothers in the Lodge remember going to this building and getting their family mail. When the Post Office moved to another location in Dallas, the Lodge took over the entire building and added kitchen and dining facilities downstairs.
The period from the late twenties through the thirties was another period of financial struggle for the region and the country, and the threat to the continued existence of the Lodge was ever-present. Attendance at the Lodge waned, partly because of the fact that many Brothers just did not have the means to continue with dues and other non-family obligations. During this period, the strength of character and devotion to the Lodge of a few members kept the Lodge open. Some of those names have been preserved in our Minutes: Foster, Cooper, Spinks, Butler, Moon, Penn, and Hart. There were others, of course, but as is often Masonic practice, many of the names of those who helped the Lodge survive at critical times were not recorded in the Minutes. It was during this time that the very Charter of the Lodge was in jeopardy, because of its financial condition.
At times it was apparent from the Minutes that the bare minimum needed to open a Lodge of Master Masons was present. But open they did. In fact, we know from the Minutes that one of the very few times that the Lodge did not meet was one meeting night in May, 1864 during the Battle of Dallas.
Although located in a small town, whose population has "exploded" from less than 5000 in 1998 to about 15,000 today, the Lodge has historically benefited from very strong leadership. This legacy manifests itself today by the fact that Dallas Masonic Lodge No. 182 claims as members a former Grand Master of Masons in the State of Georgia, MWB F. Andrew Lane, Jr., as well as WB Eddie Gurley, who served, for the first time in Georgia Grand Lodge History, as Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Georgia for two consecutive terms, 2013/2014, and 2014/2015, and is now Grand Chaplain Emeritus. Brother David Brown, who served as Treasurer of the Lodge for many years until his untimely passing just a few years ago, also contributed to the Lodge in many ways and was instrumental in setting the finances of the Lodge in order.
If anyone reading this has any more information about the Lodge, the LOST MINUTES, or old photos of the Lodge, please contact us. We aren't looking for the documents themselves, but the historical information they would contain would be of great interest to the Lodge members, and your help would be recorded in the Archives of the Lodge.
~ Phil Pearce, Director of Masonic Education
Webmaster: Phil Pearce