Mayor Chuck Fewell
So you think there’s nothing to do in town? Well think again! People today are very busy participating in various activities, sometimes almost too busy. I’ve heard people say “I wish we could go back to the old days when things weren’t quite so busy.” Well there may be some truth to that but digging into history shows that the residence of Greenfield had many clubs, lodges and societies to keep them busy.
Lodges & Societies:
The Free and Accepted Masons Lodge No. 101 was established on February 22, 1849. They first met in the old seminary building on Pennsylvania Street. They met in this building until the construction of a building on August 14, 1854. This structure stood on the Southeast corner of Main and Pennsylvania St. It didn’t take long before this building became crowded and talks of a new building began.
Old Masonic Hall on the southeast Corner of Main and Pennsylvania Streets. The Fraternal Order of Eagles purchased the building when the new Masonic Temple was constructed. This lot is now home to Car Quest Auto Parts Store.
Some felt they should rebuild on the same sight. A new building was constructed on the northwest corner of Main and State Streets, which at that time was called the Walker Corner. On August 5, 1895 the new building was dedicated. The new building was an elegant stone structure, with a mercantile room on the first floor, offices and Temple Club rooms on the second floor, and the lodge rooms on the third floor. Today the lodge meets in a building built in 1999 on Tague Street.
Masonic Building now known as the Greenfield Creative Arts and Event Center. This building was home to many organizations throughout history.
Current Masonic Hall located on Osage Street.
The I.O.O.F Lodge 135, Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established on July 25, 1853. The mission of the lodge was to promote personal and social development. To extend aid to those in need and influence the good of humanity. The Lodge was originally in the courthouse and later was moved to the third story of the Walker block. After that it was moved to the County Seminary building located on S. Pennsylvania St. They then leased a building owned by Dr. Noble P. Howard on Main Street. In 1891 the lodge moved to the second story of a brick building on the southeast corner of Main and East Streets. Today this building is home to Andree’s Florist.
Humphries Encampment No. 49, a higher degree of Odd Fellows was organized in May 1856. They also meet in the same locations as the Odd Fellows.
American Legion Place looking north. The I.O.O.F building is down by the where the car is parked at the end of the block.
Eureka Lodge No. 20, Knights of Pythias was organized on February 29, 1872. They met on the second floor of the Walker building, which is now the current location of the Masonic building at the northwest corner of Main and State Streets. Over time they met in several different locations in downtown. In 1908 they purchased part of the Strickland building and by 1915 they had purchased the entire building. By this time they had over three hundred members. Loyalty, honor and friendship were the center of the order.
Hope Lodge No. 114, Daughters of Rebekah was organized on March 20, 1874. After some time the lodge discontinued but was revived in 1885. As of 1916 they had over one hundred members. This group was the female auxiliary of the Odd fellows but later would include male members. The general duties of the group was to “live peaceably, do good unto all, as we have opportunity and do to others as you would want done to you.”
Greenfield Chapter No. 96, Royal Arch Masons was charted on October 19, 1882 with eleven charter members. This is another branch of Masons and met in the same location.
Miriam Chapter No. 64, Order of the Eastern Star was established on January 6, 1887. They conducted meetings at the old Masonic Hall. They had two hundred and thirty-nine members by 1915. Today the club is still active and meets in the new Masonic Lodge on Tague Street. Is a branch of the Masons. It was open to both men and women. The order was based on teachings from the Bible. They also were involved in local charitable giving.
Laurel Temple No. 21, Pythian Sisters was organized by the founder of the order, the Rev. J. A. Hill of Greencastle. It was organized in October 1889. There were twenty charter members. The members were the wives, daughters, mothers, widows and sisters of the Knights of Pythias. By 1916 they had over 100 members.
Wenonah Tribe No. 182, Improved Order of Red Men was instituted on March 14, 1893 with forty-five charter members. As of 1915 their membership reached over five hundred. The met in various locations in Greenfield including the Masonic Hall, the Hinchman Hall on E. Main St. and they finally purchased part of the building on the southeast corner of East and Main Streets. They were established to promote liberty. The group was first organized nationally as the Sons of Liberty and later changed to Red Men.
Oronoco Council No. 59, Degree of Pocahontas was organized on December 19, 1895. They had forty-five charter members. They too met in the Hinchman Hall and Masonic Hall. They eventually would settle in the Red Men Hall. This was the ladies auxiliary of the Red Men.
Greenfield Camp No. 5063, Modern Woodmen of America was organized on October 13, 1897. They had twenty charter members. Eventually their membership would grow to over one hundred. They met in the Masonic Hall and the I.O.O.F. building. This group is still active nationally but not locally. The membership of the organization sells life insurance, annuity and investment products. They are active with fellowship and community service activities.
Greenfield Tent No. 37, Knights of Maccabees of the World was instituted on August 1, 1890 with eight charter members. This group was also provided low-cost insurance to members as well as participated in civic needs of Greenfield.
The Greenfield Commandery No. 39, Knights Templar, was instituted on May 16, 1896. Harry Strickland of the Greenfield Commandery served as grand commander of Knights Templar of Indiana in 1914. Greenfield Commandery won a beautiful silver trophy for having the largest percentage of its member in line. Today the club is still active and meets in the new Masonic Lodge on Tague Street.
Wenonah Haymakers Association No. 132 ½ was organized with sixteen charter members on March 7, 1899. As a branch group of the Red Men they met in the same locations. Its motto was, “Fun and Good Fellowship.” The lodge paid sick and death benefits, each member being assessed fifty cents on each death, which is paid to the family of the deceased companion. As of 1916 they had three hundred and fifty-one members.
The Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias was organized on December 14, 1903. John B. Hinchman was its first captain. It flourished for several years but gradually declined. In 1914 it was reorganized.
The Golden Aerie No. 1115, Fraternal Order of Eagles was organized on June 21, 1915 with one hundred and sixty-two charter members. The Eagles purchased the old Masonic Hall when the Masons built their new temple on the corner of Main and State Streets. They are stilled active today and their lodge is located on E. Cherry Street. It was the Eagles that pushed for Mothers Day. They uphold and nourish the values of home, family and community.
Brandywine Lodge No. 1631, Loyal Order of Moose was organized on August 9, 1915 with fifty charter members. The lodge first met in the Hinchman building every Monday night. The Moose Lodge is still active today as Lodge No. 987 and met at their building on the northwest corner of E. Main St. and Blue Road. Moose International is an organization of men and woman, dedicated to caring for young and old, bringing communities closer together and celebrating life.
Clubs and Charitable Organizations:
Greenfield has always had a strong literary history so it’s no surprise that there was a Literary Society. This club was established as far back as people came to Greenfield. At first it was known as the “Dark Lyceum”. Andrew T. Hart organized the first group. The society gave entertainment including songs and readings and other performances.
The next literary club was the Thespian Society which began in April 1, 1859 and they meet at the Thespian Hall (Odd Fellows Hall). This group was established to teach and promote literature and to entertain the people of Greenfield which they did by having readings, musical performances, plays and operas.
In 1870 a dramatic club was established called the Adelphi Club. This group was kept up for several years and gave many performances in the old Masonic hall. This club was a promenade fixture in town, mainly due to the fact that its members included James Whitcomb Riley, Lee O. Harris, George A Carr and other local literary greats. Mr. Riley gave his first dramatic performance with this group. The Adelphians as they were called always played to a packed house. They also housed a band called the Adelphian Band.
In 1875 the Reading Room Society was organized which gave a series of entertainments. This club promoted the Knightstown-Greenfield spelling bee matches.
In January, 1879 the Greenfield Reading Club was organized with twenty-four charter members.
Also in 1879 it’s stated that the social influence of the saloon was offset by the temperance workers by establishment of reading rooms. The Blue Ribbon Reading Room Association was organized on April 2. There room was in the Guymon house on the northwest corner of Main and Mount Streets.
In 1880 women began to establish woman only clubs. One of the first was the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club. This group took up the Chautauqua course of reading which upon after taking the four year course you would graduate in the course of reading. This group was organized for more than a decade.
The Ionian Club, so named in honor of its founder, Mrs. Ione Brown Black, had its beginning on December 17, 1888. The clubs motto, “We taste an intellectual pleasure twice, and with double the result when we taste it with a friend.” This was simple a book club which they would all read a book and get together and discuss it. This group of young women would meet once a week. They would also study French history and literature. No information could be found as too when this group ceased to meet but they were still active as of 1915.
The Hesperian Club was organized on October 17, 1889, at the home of Mrs. N. P. Howard St. The new society gave some time to the consideration of a name that might be worthy of the company of ladies. The name of “Hesperian” (western star) was finally proposed by Mary Vawter and adopted. The club had twenty charter members.
The Hesperian Club was the third literary club organized in the city. Its purpose was the social and intellectual advancement of its members. The club would listen to Rienza as he addressed the Romans; followed by Victor Hugo, Sir Walter Scott and other eminent authors through interesting scenes and incidents in Egypt, Scotland, Ireland and other foreign countries.
The club hosted many of events; among them was a bohemian tea, observance of the tenth anniversary on November 11, 1899. The event was held in the parlors of the Columbia Hotel, which was located on E. Main Street just east of East St. They also hosted Greenfield Day, in which all of the city’s poets, composers and artists were discussed.
No records tell us how long this club existed but news was still being put out for the group as of 1916.
Daughters of the Revolution established its chapter on June 11, 1904. The first meeting of the ladies was held at Cuyler’s studio. The club would meet a various member’s houses but bigger events were always held at Cuyler’s studio.
The purpose of this society was to “perpetuate the patriotic spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence; to commemorate prominent events connected with the War of the Revolution; to collect, publish, and preserve the roll, records, and historic documents relating to that period; to encourage the study of the county’s history; to promote sentiments of friendship and common interest among the members of the society, and to provide a home for and furnish assistance to such Daughters of the Revolution as may be impoverished, when in its power to do so.”
Kappa Kappa Kappa Upsilon Chapter was installed in Greenfield on March 31, 1906. They had about fifty members when the group was established. The group was formed to doing general work for the needy of Greenfield. They would hold various events to raise money. This group is still active today and you can always enjoy their donuts at the county fair.
The Ladies’ Home Reading Club was organized in 1894, at the home of Mrs. C. M. Curry. The club at the time of its organization decided to study the Bible and met every Thursday afternoon.
After some time some members of the group desired to follow other lines of work and they withdrew from the club and formed the Gradatim Club. The members who decided to stay with the Home Reading Club continued to study the bible and was reported that they finished the Old Testament in 1903.
The club had always given active support to civic reforms. It was this club that circulated a petition addressed to the city council asking that an ordinance be passed prohibiting spitting upon sidewalks.
The Clio Club was organized February 21, 1896, with thirteen charter members. This club followed the course as outlined by the Progress Magazine of Chicago. The programs eventually became more general studying individual authors, music, art, sociology, geography, philosophy and current events. This group was active in some civic issues such as the pore-house reform.
The Greenfield Federation of Women’s Clubs was organized on May 2, 1899. Many of the mentioned woman’s clubs became members. The object of the organization was to consider questions pertaining to social, educational and literary matters and the advancement of methods for the best culture and advancement of the city. By each club joining together to focus on making Greenfield a sanitary and beautiful city. They would ban together and force the city council to pass ordinances on spitting and curfews. They also encouraged the growing of flowers.
The Vincent Society of the Hall in the Grove was organized on June 27, 1912. The object of this society is to unite all Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle graduates in a permanent organization, which shall have a general oversight of the Chautauqua work in the community, encouraging graduates to continue habits of systematic reading.
The Cosmopolitan Club was organized in October, 1894 by Mrs. Mary Swope with seventeen charter members. Its object was to simply benefit and improvement of its members. The first nine years were given to the study of the work as outlined by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, the next four years were spent in a systematic study of the Bible, and this group brought many guest speakers to Greenfield. They also gave many social events. They also have given to charity.
The Gradatim Literary League was organized by Miss Vania Gates in 1895. They met for the first time at the home of Mrs. Marshall Smith, which was at the sight of Carnegie’s Restaurant on North Street. The society was formed for the purpose of studying the history of the various countries.
The club’s name originated from the poem “Gradatim,” written by J. G. Holland and the motto has always been, “No Footsteps Backward.” The club was also active in civic interest of Greenfield.
The Franchise League was organized on June 8, 1912 by Dr. Amelia Keller of Indianapolis who helped the woman of Greenfield get established. They met at the home of Mrs. Mary Boyd. This club addressed woman’s suffrage. Books would be read and discussed on the subject.
The Home Economics Club was established on September 20, 1912. Woman homemakers and housekeepers, banded together in an organization to be known as the Greenfield Domestic Science Club, the purpose of which is to study how to make the home and its occupants better and happier. They club started studying food values, sanitation and hygiene. The club would take tours such as a visit to the local butcher who would explain different cuts of meat and other meat preparations.
In 1913, the state chapter requested that the clubs change their names to the Home Economics Club. They continued to take tours and bring in various speakers.
The Grange movement swept over the county and the City of Greenfield around 1870. In March of 1874 representatives of various Granges met in Greenfield and became organized. At this time the organization had a membership of 1,500. The Grange promoted the agricultural and Industrial force of the county. The group flourished for many years but its involvement into politics spelled the eventual end of the organization. The ties to the party were stronger than the ties to the organization and within three or four years the group was virtually extinct.
In January of 1879 the group tried to revive back to its original mission. Over time the group became the Famers Mutual Benefit Association but was loosely ran. No records could be found as to when this Association disbanded.
One of the first charity organizations in Greenfield was the Greenfield Benevolent Society, which was founded on May, 1874. It was a ladies’ organization, and in February, 1875, they had twenty-five members. They collected clothing, and at times food items for the poor. Donations of wood and flour were also frequently were given as these were important items at that time. They club would also collect shoes, dry goods and other grocery items.
This group did more than just collect items for the needy; they also hosted a local spelling match which took place at the courthouse on March 13, 1875. Practically all of the business men, as well as others, participated. Three cords of wood and a ham of meat were the prizes offered to the winning side. Spelling matches were frequently held and a small admittance was charged to raise funds for the poor.
It’s not known when this organization disbanded but an ad in the local paper still mentioned the group up to 1886.
Churches have always been active to charitable donation in Greenfield. In 1904 one such group was formed called the Associated Charities of Greenfield. This group also collected and raised funds for the poor. They would hold various events and programs.
Aside from these organizations for home charity, Greenfield has also made other donations on various occasions. In 1884, the citizens raised $223.35 for the Ohio River flood sufferers. In 1906, $608.80 was donated to the San Francisco earthquake victims. Several hundred dollars were raised in 1914 and donated to the Belgium relief fund.
The Temple Club was organized in December 1896 and had about 50 charter members. This was simply a social club. The directors for the first year were S.R. Wells, Charles G. Offutt, Ephraim Marsh, E. P. Thayer, R. A. Black, George S. Wilson, Walter O. Bragg and Charles Downing. The club was maintained for many years and met regularly in the Masonic Building.
In the spring of 1899, the business men of Greenfield considered the advisability of holding a street fair during the summer. Officers were selected and arrangements began to take shape. In the summer of 1899 the downtown streets were closed off and booths and displays made of the different business were set up. Not only did this street fair promote the business of Greenfield but it also had entertainment with side-shows and merry-go-rounds. Sound like Riley Days??
Through the efforts of the ladies clubs of the city, a Chautauqua festival took place in the summer of 1905. The Chautauqua was held on the grounds of the West School building. The programs included live music oratory and dramatic art. The following year it was held on the streets of downtown Greenfield.
The festival was dropped for several years but was revived in 1913 and was held was several years to follow. This time the festival was held at eh old fair grounds north of downtown. The famous Imnes Band of New York City and Booker T. Washington performed in 1914 and Helen Keller spoke in 1915.
As you can see there were many clubs, lodges and societies to belong to and be active in. All were to better either the individual or the community in which they lived. Today we have many organizations, too many to list, that continue these good works. There’s more history to each of these groups mentioned and maybe we can dig deeper into some of these groups in future articles. There is also some groups that went unmentioned, I tried to focus on some of the original clubs or society’s. If you know of some please let me know.
If you aren’t a member of a local service organization you should seriously consider becoming active in one and lending your time and talent to make your community a better place to live.