Masonic Temple 1912, 301 Chestnut St, Evansville, IN 47713
Early History of Freemasonry in Evansville
In the early years of the 19th century, Evansville was growing rapidly, in part, because of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Some of the Masons living in the area decided to start their own Lodge. Early in 1819 these Masons petitioned the Grand Lodge of Indiana for a grant of dispensation. Upon issuance of the dispensation, the first Masonic Lodge in Evansville was formed as Olive Branch Lodge #10. Olive Branch was chartered on 15 September 1819 by Grand Master Alexander Meeks. The Lodge was formed with Jay Morehouse as Worshipful Master, William Olmstead as Senior Warden and Amos Clark as Junior Warden. According to the records, nineteen brothers were on the rolls. Olive Branch Lodge #10 continued until 1833 when the property and Charter were surrendered to the Grand Lodge of Indiana as a result of anti-Masonic sentiment infecting the nation.
Evansville Lodge was founded on 3 April 1848. We received our charter on 26 May 1848 as Evansville Lodge #64. Some of the brothers who founded our Lodge were members of the Olive Branch Lodge. The brethren requested the Grand Lodge to return the jewels of Olive Branch Lodge to the newly chartered Evansville Lodge. When the charter was presented to the Lodge, the jewels were also returned and are still in our possession. The first Worshipful Master was Colley A. Foster who was supported by John Hibbard, Senior Warden and James T. Walker, Junior Warden.
The following is from the original Lodge affairs that are mentioned in the records: Upon receiving an invitation from the County Commissioners, the Officers and Members of Evansville Lodge performed the duties of laying the corner stone of the Vanderburgh County Courthouse, 29 September 1852.
In 1865, it was ordered on motion that the Lodge Hall be draped in mourning for a thirty day period to mark the death of President Abraham Lincoln. The minutes also reflect that President Lincoln was referred to and considered a Mason; however, there is no historical evidence that the 16th President ever received any of the Masonic Degrees.
In 1867, the Mount Vernon, Indiana Lodge extended an invitation to Evansville #64 to attend the laying of the corner stone for the Masonic Lodge in Mount Vernon. The Evansville brethren were inspired to make their first visitation out of the city. The trip was made on the river boat "The Charmer." The cost of the trip was $200.00 for one hundred members of the Lodge.
On January 10, 1937, the Green River began overflowing into the Ohio. On top of that, began 16 inches of rain, flurries and an ice storm over the next 11 days on the Ohio Valley. On Jan. 24 Martial law was declared as thousands of people were evacuated. Many took refuge outside the flood zone in schools, churches and factories. By Jan. 31 the Ohio had crested at 53.74 feet, 19 feet above flood stage. Five hundred city blocks were a lake. While the Red Cross assisted with the disaster the members of Evansville lodge 64 used every boat and raft they could procure to rescue those left freezing and hungry on roofs and bringing them to safety and delivered food and water to those displaced by the flood.