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Welcome to Groveland Lodge #190 F&AM ... There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met! ... 2B1ASK1 ... Making good men GREAT since 1910 ... ASK and it will be given to you ... SEEK and you will find ... KNOCK and the door shall be opened to you

Compiled by S. T. "Tom" Brown, Jr., PDDGM

On March 14, 1909, a group of Masonic Brothers met in the town of Mascotte, located in South Lake County, Florida. The purpose of this meeting was to see if there was enough interest to establish a Masonic Lodge in Mascotte. It was decided that there was enough interest and a request for dispensation to organize a Lodge was sent to the M:. W:. Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of Florida.

The following Brothers were present:
Dr. Wm. G. DeVane (pronounced 'Devon'), M.D., Chair. (Morven 254, GA)
Isaac C. Edge ---------------------------------------(Trilby 141)
J. G. Hatcher ----------------------------------------(Trilby 141)
E. M. Rabb ------------------------------------------(New Smyrna 149)
J. E. Brown ------------------------------------------(Lodge not noted)
J. A. Pate ---------------------------------------------(Norman 354, GA)
John Story -------------------------------------------(Dade City 48)
Daniel S. Sykes -------------------------------------(Trilby 141)
Wheeler McDonald --------------------------------(Webster 17)

At a meeting on July 13, 1909, dues were set at $2.50. Regular (Stated) Communications would be the Saturday night on or before the full moon and two weeks there after. Degree fees were set: E.A. $10, F.C. $5, & M.M. $10.

Dispensation was granted and the Lodge was to be known as Mascotte Lodge U.D. and the first communication (special or called) was held on July 28, 1909 at 7:30 pm with the following Brothers as Officers:
W:. Dr. William G. DeVane, M.D., W.M. -----(Morven 254, GA)***, S.W.
(see note below)
Bro. I. C. Edge, J.W. --------------------------------(Trilby 141)
Bro. W. McDonald, acting Treas. & Sec. --------(Webster 17)
Bro. G. J. Hatcher, acting S.D. --------------------(Olustee 104)
Bro. W. C. Faircloth, acting J.D. ------------------(Trilby 141)
Bro. J. A. Pate, Tyler --------------------------------(Norman 354, GA)

***Note: This member was expelled for unmasonic conduct. See minutes of Nov 12, 1910.

The first Regular (Stated) Communication of Mascotte Lodge U.D. was held on July 31, 1909.

After talking to a number of people some years ago, it looks like the Lodge must have had its meetings on the second floor of the building that later became known as ¡§Gabe¡¨ Watkins¡¦ store. It is never mentioned in the minutes. There is mentioned in the minutes of paying rent to the Woodsmen of the World and I have been told this was where they met. This building was located on the south side of State Road 50 on the east side of where the railroad tracks crossed the highway.

I was informed early in my Masonic travels by various older members that our Lodge was indebted to the members of Trilby Lodge No. 141 F. & A. M. for their help in getting our Lodge established. I know, from research of our records, that some of our members Dimitted from that Lodge. Also, I am aware that Trilby was, at that time, a railroad town and a lot of Trilby Lodge¡¦s members worked for the railroad. It was related to me that when a train was going through Mascotte on Lodge meeting nights, that the crew stopped the train and attended the meetings. It is noted in the minutes that members from that Lodge visited and some even presented Degree Lectures up through the 1940¡¦s.

The first Petition for an E. A. Degree (in those days, each degree had its own petition) was received on August 14, 1909, from Mr. Joseph Edward Thomas.

The minutes of August 28, 1909 show cash on hand to be $20.96.

On October 23, 1909, a Petition was Rejected.

On December 11, 1909, the first candidate Raised to the Sublime
Degree of Master Mason by this Lodge was Brother Willie James Larrimore.

A set of by-laws was adopted on December 27, 1909.

On January 20, 1910, a Charter was granted to Mascotte Lodge No. 190 F. & A. M. in Mascotte, Florida with the following twelve (12) Brothers:
W:. Dr. William G. DeVane, M.D., W.M. ----(Morven 254, GA)
...***, S.W. (see note below)
Isaac C. Edge*, J.W. --------------------------------(Trilby 141)
James A. Pate*, Sec ---------------------------------(Norman 354, GA)
Willie J. Larrimore*, Treas. ------------------------(Mascotte U.D.)
Wheeler McDonald, S.D. ---------------------------(Webster 17)
J. G. Hatcher, J.D. ------------------------------------(Trilby 141)
Edward M. Rabb*, Tyler ---------------------------(New Smyrna 149)
William C. Faircloth* -------------------------------(Trilby 141)
John Story ---------------------------------------------(Dade City 48)
Daniel S. Sykes ---------------------------------------(Trilby 141)
Joseph E. Thomas**, E.A. --------------------------(Mascotte U.D.)

*Note: These Brothers either Dimited or were SNPD at a later date.
**Note: This Brother did not complete the Degrees.
***Note: This member, after a trial for unmasonic conduct, was expelled. See minutes of November 12, 1910.

In March of 1911, Stated Communications were changed to the Wednesday night on or before the full moon.

On January 27, 1912, the Secretary was directed to order 1 dozen brass spittoons.

It should be noted here, that when the Lodge moved from the Newett Building at 171 East Broad Street in Groveland (1981) to 320 E. Jim Payne Road, we found a marble stone engraved with "Mascotte Lodge No. 190 F. & A. M. Aug. 22, 1912." No one, today, knows what it was for or how it came into being.

February 27, 1918
Dispensation was received for Mascotte Lodge No. 190 F. & A. M. to move its Charter from Mascotte to Taylorville, Florida (now known as Groveland).

The Lodge meetings were, evidently, held on the upper floor of the old two-story school house that was located near Greenwood Cemetery. WƒÌ Brother Charles J. Ingalls, P.M. told me some years ago that was where he was Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. Lodge records show that was on November 8, 1923.

April 21, 1925
The Lodge's name was changed to Groveland Lodge No. 190 F. & A. M.

There are a number of years of minutes missing and I cannot find when the Lodge started meeting in the Newett Building at 171 East Broad Street (at the corner of SR 50 & Indiana Ave). It was probably some time during the mid to late 1920's, after W:. Brother Charles J. Ingalls, P.M was Raised in 1923.

In a conversation, one time, with W:. Brother Clayton J. Weir, PM in his law office, he told me about the steel trusses that are on top of the Newett Building. He stated that he cut & welded them together on the ground and a crane was brought in to hoist them to the top of the building. They were placed there with long steel rods into the two oak beams that supported the roof so that the columns, in what was being used as the Lodge Room, could be removed. I had been told by an older member when I joined in 1965 that the trusses were there to hold the walls in. Later, when I was on the roof I could see that they were not attached to the walls and after looking in the attic, I could see the rods coming through the roof into the two beams that ran the length of the building.

W:. Brother Weir did this during his summer vacation from college. Our records show that he was Raised to the Degree of Master Mason February 18, 1924, but I do not know if it was in the old school house or the Newett Building? He could have been college or law school after 1924. I did not think to ask at the time of our conversation. He related this to me some years before my conversation with W:. Brother Ingalls, PM.

April 2, 1929
Groveland Town Marshal, Brother Robert Lee Smithwick was shot in a shoot out with a criminal in the evening of March 31st and died at 1:00 a.m., April 2, 1929.

The Secretary was contacted on March 2, 2011, by Ms Linda Charlton, a reporter from Clermont working on a story about the son of a deceased member of the Groveland Lodge. He grew up not knowing where his father was buried and wanted to find the grave.

Lodge records did indicate a Masonic Funeral was conducted for Brother Smithwick, but information was very limited. It did not mention he died in the line of duty or where he was buried.

Ms Charlton has confirmed that Town Marshal, Robert L. Smithwick, Sr. was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Clermont, however the grave is unmarked and the City of Clermont does not have any burial records with his name on it. Someone evidently donated a burial plot. Cemetery plot ownership records do suggest that he is in one of the two cemetery plots of which the Clermont Masonic Lodge No. 226 is the registered owner, but they have no record of this.

Brother Smithwick¡¦s name has been added to the Lake County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the front lawn of the Lake County Historical Courthouse located at 315 West Main Street in Tavares. (2012)

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, D.C. has inscribed the late Town Marshal & Deputy¡¦s name there, also.

April 1929
A Called Communication of Groveland Lodge No. 190, Groveland, Florida was held for the purpose conducting a Masonic Funeral Service for our Brother R. L. Smithwick. The date was left off.

Officers present: A. P. Slone, PM acting W. Master; C. J. Weir, Senior Warden; R. L. Arnold acting Junior Warden; G. F. Revels, Sec.; J. G. Turner, Treas. acting Senior Deacon; N. H. Hunter acting Junior Deacon. Other Brothers Present: List unavailable.

April 9, 1929
On motion made, seconded and carried ¡V the Lodge will donate the amount of $10.00 a month to Mrs. R. L Smithwick.

February 11, 1930
Vigilance Committee reported on Smithwick matter. Sec¡¦y instructed to write to Grand Lodge related to same. (A copy of the report is not available)

August 26, 1930
Sec¡¦y was instructed to correspond with Bro. (Russell C.) Peeples, District Deputy Grand Master, concerning Mrs. Smithwick & children entering the Masonic Home.

December 9, 1930
Recommendation that the Smithwick children be admitted to Masonic Home, St. Petersburg read. Ordered and so carried with the following Investigation Committee C. J. Ingalls, J. G. Turner and A. S. Brooks.

March 24, 1931
Application of the Smithwick children, Robert L., Jr. & Donnell, for admission to the Masonic Home read and Secretary instructed to send to Bro. Chapman of Sanford.

May 12, 1931
Committee on placing the Smithwick children in the Masonic Home reported that they were placed in the Home on Sunday May 10th.

November 14, 1933
Brothers: E. McFarland, Geo. F. Revels and Dr. J. G. Turner were appointed as a committee to see what can be done towards presenting some presents to the Smithwick children at the Masonic Home at Christmas.

December 26, 1933
Brother E. McFarland reported that the Christmas Committee had secured and delivered gifts for the Smithwick children and Bro. A. P. Tillis.

July 11, 1944
The Lodge must have had a mortgage on the Newett Building, because there is some reference to it in a copy of a twenty-five (25) lease agreement in 1935 for the ground floor to Groveland Real Estate & Investment Company.

According to the Minutes of July 11, 1944, there was a foreclosure on the "Masonic Building¨ and that the City of Groveland had the winning bid at the "Master Sale". It was, also, noted that the City Council was willing to trade the building for the lots the Lodge owned located at the corner of Orange St (SR 50 eastbound) & Lake Ave (SR 19). The city built its building on those lots and the Lodge got its building back clear of any mortgage.

August 25, 1981 The Newett Building was sold and the building & property located at 320 East Jim Payne Road was purchased. With the help of R:.W:. Harvey B. Eddy, Deputy Grand Master (next Grand Master), getting the paper work through, we had the first Stated Communication in this building was held on this date.

W:. Phillip H. Kuharske was Worshipful Master; Bro. Terry Craig (PM) was Senior Warden; Bro. Jerry Beard (PM) was Junior Warden; W:. Dan Giddens, PM was Treasurer and W:. S. T. Brown, Jr., PM (PDDGM) was Secretary.

September 8, 1981
The first Brother Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in this building was Brother Theodore "Ted" B. Kisor (PDDGM).

October 1, 1988
A cornerstone laying ceremony was held on Saturday to add 1800 square feet to the existing building over the next few years. This addition would be used for the lodge room, ante room, candidate preparation room and storage. A 75th Anniversary Time Capsule was buried a few feet north of the cornerstone.

September 22, 2009
An Altar, over 100 years old, was donated to us by Northern Star Lodge No. 555, Duke Center, Pennsylvania. W:. John (PM) & Freda O'Brien while they were visiting friends in the area found the Altar. W:. Al (PM) & Carol Kaelin picked it up when they were visiting in the area and brought it down to Florida.

January 20, 2010
100 Year Anniversary Celebration ¡V On Saturday January 23, 2010 a Called Communication was Opened by M:.W:. Dale I. Goehrig, Grand Master F. & A. M. of Florida to Re-Constitute our Lodge and Celebrate our 100 Year Anniversary. Other dignitaries were present.

Silver Officer's Jewels, that were over 100 years old, were loaned to us by Mt. Dora Lodge No. 238, Mt. Dora Florida to be used this day.

A 100 Year Anniversary Time Capsule will be buried near the 75 Year Anniversary Time Capsule.

April 30, 2011 (See Daily Commercial article)
The facts of this event did not come to our attention until early 2011 & 2012.

Our Brother Robert Lee Smithwick, Groveland Town Marshal & Lake County Deputy Sheriff, died in the line of duty April 2, 1929. The Lodge was unaware of this event and started doing some research on this.

April 3, 2012
His name was added to a Law Enforcement Memorial stone monument in front of the "old" Lake County Courthouse in Tavares. His name was also, added to the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC.

June 27, 2013
A phone call was received from Mr. Robert Lee Smithwick, Jr., a son of our Brother Robert Lee Smithwick, Sr.. Junior's brother Donnell died a few years ago and left some memorabilia that he wanted to give us. He lives in an assisted living facility at Sun City Center near Tampa. He retired from Tampa Electric. Bro. Hewey Davis was contacted, he remembered him from working at Tampa Electric. Mr. R. L. Smithwick, Jr was told that we were still working on finding his father's grave site and getting a marker for it. He died in 2015.

Bro. Jim Johnson thinks he has found the grave site. We are waiting on verification from the Lake County Sheriff's Office. (2015)

There is a lot more to the story of this Lodge. Someone in the community should have pictures of the buildings that the Lodge held it meetings in. I hope that another Brother, some day, will continue to research and make any additions or corrections to this story as needed.

Sincerely and fraternally,
S. T. "Tom" Brown, Jr., PDDGM