A Brief History of Adoniram Lodge

Adoniram Lodge #288, Ancient York Masons, was chartered on January 7, 1873 by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.  The lodge had been operating for an unknown time under dispensation.  The Grand Lodge, on October 3, 1872, received a report from the committee on charters and dispensations recommending that Adoniram, along with 18 other lodges, be granted a charter because it has presented work “generally correct.”

Adoniram Lodge was chartered at Hick’s Sugar Farm, near what is now known as “Old Belfast,“ located in what is now northern Grant County.  Belfast was a lumber and farming community, and there was a tannery in the settlement.  The Lodge was instituted with 9 charter members: Dr. J.W. Hall, as Worshipful Master, W.H. Graves (Senior Warden), Warren Holeman (Junior Warden), William Lett, D.J. McDonald, Elijah Holeman, Hiram Hoge, Thomas Page, and James Caple.  Of these men, a photograph of only one, James Plempton Caple, has been found.  At a cemetery near Belfast is the grave of Waren Holeman, who died  on 8-16-1875, or 6-16-1886, and was one of the charter members listed above.

Sometime near the turn of the century, probably in 1902, the Lodge moved to the Sardis community in eastern Saline County.  This move was brought about by the decline of population in Belfast.  The Lodge met in the second story of the Sardis School.  This facility was used until the building burned in the spring of 1917.  All of the Lodge records were destroyed in this fire, and a replacement charter was issued by the Grand Lodge.

After the Sardis School was destroyed, the Lodge moved to the Mount Olive Baptist Church, where a second story was added to the building to accommodate the lodge room and serve as a meeting place.  Work started early in the spring of 1918.  This meeting place was used for approximately 35 years, and there are many people around today (  ) who relate many great stories of meetings and family get-togethers there.

There were also some rough times while meeting in Mount Olive.  It has been related that one of the members became gravely ill, probably with tuberculosis.  The Lodge became one of his chief means of support, and after a period of time, supporting the Brother depleted the Lodge treasury to the point that a special collection had to be taken up in order to pay the Grand Lodge dues.

In November, 1939, twenty-five Brothers from various lodges met and developed the adopted work as far as the various lectures are concerned.  This work was then exemplified to the Grand Lodge, and was accepted.  Adoniram’s first certified lecturers were Brothers Carl Fite and John Reed, who, on May 21, 1941, certified before two past Grand Masters and a past Grand Secretary.

Again, changing population patterns made it necessary for Adoniram to move, and on November 18, 1953, permission was granted to move to Mablevale.  Several buildings were initially used for meetings, the old Home Economics Building of Mablevale School (the building now occupied by the Pioneer Club), which had been the Home Demonstration Building.  It then moved to the Church of Christ building on the corner of 3rd Street and Sardis Road, its present location.  This building was purchased for approximately $5,000.

In 1970, the Lodge started work on its present building, and approximately one year was spent in completing it.  Almost all of the work, other than the steel frame and outer shell, was done by the membership.  The first meeting of the Lodge in its new building was on 6-3-1971.

The membership of Adoniram Lodge is most proud of its history, and this brief synopsis is just that, indeed.  This, however, will not conclude our delving into the past.  This study has involved many people, many hours of research, and many miles driven.  It has also been a very rewarding experience for those of us who played a part in it. Many old acquaintances have been made and hopefully fond recommendations have been stirred within the memories of those from whom the information was gathered.  We will continue to study our past, and attempt to fill in more of our early years – especially those in the Sardis and hopefully even the Belfast areas.