"The History of McKinley Lodge No. 712
F.&A.M. 1919 - 1994"
by William F. McNabney
The McKinley heritage from Garfield Lodge #569
The history of Hammond and that of Masonry in Hammond is inseparable.
Hammond grew from an early settlement of predominantly German immigrants
when the Michigan Central Railroad built their tracks across the area in
1851. This made the region accessible to the fast growing population of
The Construction of the famous Hammond Packing Plant began in 1869
resulting in a growing industry and a continuing influx of settlers. With
the invention of the Davis Refrigerator Railroad car, The Hammond Packing
Company began sending dressed beef to cities all over the country and even
to Liverpool, England. By 1891 company had over 100 employees and was the
largest single dressed beef processing plant in the world.
The eight petitioners from Hammond received permission from the Grand
Lodge of Indiana in 1883, to conduct business a Garfield Lodge, "Under
Dispensation" with Marcus Towle as Worshipful Master. The first stated
Meeting "Under Dispensation" was held Friday evening January 8, 1883.
Their regular and stated meetings are still held on Friday.
Garfield Lodge received its Charter as a Regular Lodge from Grand Master
Bruce Carr dated May 24, 1884. Wor. Brother Marcus Towle was elected to
continue to serve as Master of the Lodge.
It was also in 1883 that efforts to incorporate Hammond began. On
Christmas Day, 1883, however., a devastating fire broke out in the central
business district affecting both Hammond and Garfield Lodge. Garfield's
first Lodge Room was on the southwest corner of Morton Court and Plumber
Avenue (now Willow Court) on the second floor of the two-story frame
building in the hart of this downtown business area. The fire Broke out in
Towle's Butcher Shop, destroying the entire building in which the Butcher
Shop, a Drug Store, and Garfield Lodge were located.
With the completion of the clean up after the fire, incorporation efforts
were began again and he City of Hammond was incorporated on April 21,
1884. Garfield Lodge No. 569, F.&A.M., received its Charter bring it out
from Under Dispensation on May 24, 1884.
This was the beginning of masonry in Hammond. By 1918,
the time of the First World War, membership was grown extensively, and
there was almost too much work for the members of one Masonic Lodge.
Following World War One, interest in the Masonic Fraternity in Hammond,
Indiana increased to the extent that the officers and members of Garfield
Lodge No.569, F&AM of Hammond concluded that a second Masonic Lodge in
Hammond was necessity.
A discussion as to a suitable name for the new Lodge
then took place. The names of Washington Lodge, McKinley Lodge, Hammond
Lodge, Progress Lodge, and New Era Lodge were suggested, and finally the
name McKinley Lodge was decided upon as a fitting tribute to the exemplary
Masonic Character of our Martyred President as well as the splendid
Christian character so fittingly displayed in his life.
The Grand Lodge Proceeding of the Grand Communication in
1919 makes reference to a Petition being received on March 18, 1919 for a
new Lodge in Hammond. "The Grand Master Thomas B Bohon appointed Past
Grand Master Lincoln V.Cravens of Hammond, Indiana as his special deputy,
to investigate and report on the advisability of forming a new Lodge, and
as a result of his favorable report two days later Dispensation was issued
under the seal of the Grand Lodge and dated March 20, 1919.
© 1996 McKinley Lodge No. 712, F&AM