Tipton Lodge #33 F&AM
By Jerry Lebo
Tipton Lodge could be considered the cornerstone of Freemasonry in Cass County. It was the first Masonic Lodge in the county, having been chartered in 1828 as only the 33rd lodge so designated by the Grand Lodge of Indiana.
The Grand Lodge of Indiana was only 10 years old at the time. Previously, a handful of pioneering lodges, mostly along the Ohio River, were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Kentucky.
John Tipton, for whom Tipton Lodge is named, served as Grand Master of Indiana on two occasions - 1820 and 1828. Originally from Corydon, the first state capital, Tipton was joined by a handful of brethren (mainly from Wayne Lodge #25 in Fort Wayne to organize Tipton #33. Hiram Todd was the First Worshipful Master, although Tipton himself would later serve as Master. His sons, Spier and George, also would become Masters of Tipton #33.
Lodges later were organized in Royal Center, Walton, Twelve Mile, New Waverly and Galveston. Orient Lodge #272 became the second Masonic lodge in Logansport, Having been founded in 1860. It merged into Tipton during 2002. On the periphery were Eastern Star, DeMolay and the Rainbow Girls, to name some.
In addition to being a cornerstone for Freemasonry in Cass County, Tipton's membership roster contained the name of many founding fathers of Logansport.
John Tipton was born Aug. 14, 1786 in Tennessee. Tipton was only seven when his father, Joshua, was killed by Indians, leaving Tipton with a life-long hatred of Indians.
Tipton was 21 when the family moved to Harrison County, Indiana. He joined a sheriff's mounted rifleman's patrol which joined Governor William Henry Harrison to fight Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Harrison made Tipton a captain. President James Monroe made him a general in 1813.
Returning to Corydon, Tipton was elected Harrison County sheriff in 1816, the year that Indiana became the 19th state in the Union. He was elected to the legislature in 1819.
Long involved in Freemasonry, Tipton was elected Indiana Grand Master in 1820 and again in 1828.
In 1823 President James Monroe named Tipton as an Indian agent and stationed him in Fort Wayne. He moved the agency to the confluence of the Wabash and Eel Rivers in 1828. The area has just been plotted by Chauncey Carter but had not yet been named.
Tipton competed in a shooting contest with John Duret, who won the event and named the area Logansport. Logan was an Ohio Indian friendly to the white man.
Although he lost naming rights, Tipton was instrumental in building the city's first school. He built a gristmill, sawmill and helped develop the city's first cemetery that we know today as the Old Ninth Street Cemetery.
Tipton, who later served in the U.S. Senate, became involved with Freemasonry in 1827 while still in Corydon. After his move to Fort Wayne, he was involved in the fraternity in that city, helping found Wayne Lodge #25. Following his move to Logansport, he enlisted many brethren from Wayne #25 to help organize what became Tipton #33 in Logansport. Hiram Todd was elected the first Master of Tipton #33 and Tipton himself later served as Master.
Tipton's sons, George and Spier, later would later be Masters of the lodge. Spier died in 1847 while serving with the U.S. Army during the Mexican war. His death in Puebla, Mexico, was thought to be from bad water or food poisoning.
General Tipton died in 1839. George Tipton died in 1873.
Tipton Lodge was organized Aug. 25, 1828, although its formal charter from the Grand Lodge did not come until Nov. 20 that year. Still, the lodge was able to convene, but without a formal name. Its first meeting was Sept. 3, followed by a second meeting on Oct. 20, at which a name was selected.
There were eight members present, including Tipton. Seven ballots suggested the name "Tipton" while the eighth ballot said "Wabash" It was thought Tipton himself, in a moment of modesty, offered "Wabash" as a lodge name.
If today's rules were in place in 1828, the lodge would be called something else. Current Masonic law prohibits the naming of a lodge for a living person.
In addition to Tipton, the early Freemasons were like a who's who in Logansport history.
Todd, the first Master, came to Logansport earlier in 1828 and set up a medical practice, in addition to operating a general store.
Chauncey Carter came to Logansport from Fort Wayne and served as lodge Master on numerous occasions, totaling 16 years in the East. Terms in office were six months during the pioneer days, and it was not unusual for an individual to serve as Master on several occasions. Carter was a civil engineer and made the first plat of Logansport during June 1828. His public career included terms as county commissioner, probate judge, state representative, county surveyor and county treasurer.
Hugh B. McKeen, the lodge's first treasurer, served in various capacities, including postmaster, assessor and coroner in addition to operating a trading post.
John Duret, the lodge's first secretary, was also county clerk for 26 years. He also served as county auditor and recorder.
The city's first Masonic Hall was built on the site of the just-abandoned Masonic Temple at Fourth and North Streets. For various reasons, there were delays and construction was not completed until six years after it started. The year was 1835.
Orient Lodge#272 was organized in 1860 and maintained a separate location, which Tipton used for its meetings during the construction of the Masonic Temple that was dedicated in 1896. Both lodges eventually occupied the new Temple, as did Eastern Star, DeMolay and the Rainbow girls. The lodge room was located on the third floor and until 2010 was used for lodge meetings. The second floor consisted of a huge dining hall. The main floor was rented out to doctors and other professional people. The basement contained a recreation area that included pool tables and card tables.
The Masonic Temple Association operated the building with funds coming from the lodges and rentals. It sold the building in 1998 for $1 to the Four Counties Counseling organization, which gutted the first levels and created apartments. The third floor lodge room was left intact and continued being used by the Masons for a term of 12 years which ended in the fall of 2010.
The new facility at 1307 Smith Street was acquired from a local bank during a bankruptcy sale. The original building was remodeled and the addition constructed to house the lodge room itself. The original building serves as a dining area and office space.
Some information in this history was gleaned from "Hundred Year History, Tipton Lodge #33" by Joseph E. Crain PM. Other portions of this history were provided by Richard Copeland, Cass County Historian.
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