Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization. The Masonic Fraternity came to Wisconsin from England. The first Masonic Lodge was started near Green Bay in the 1820s (almost 25 years before Wisconsin became a state.) As more Masons move into the state, they brought their fraternity with them. At their peak, Wisconsin had more than 360 active lodges in the state.
This Lodge (Fulton Lodge No. 69) was founded in July 1855 in Fulton Center (present day Indianford) in Rock County. The first recorded meeting of the lodge was held under dispensation on the evening of August 4th, 1855. At this meeting, the brethren were informed that a petition for a charter or a warrant empowering them to institute a lodge of A. F. & A. M. had been forwarded to the Grand Lodge officers in Milwaukee for their approval. In June 1856, the Lodge was given a charter from the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin. Erastus Hopkins served as its master, with Robert Stone and Albert Wagner as Wardens.
The Lodge rented its first rooms on the second floor of a store in Fulton Center run by Henry Whittaker and William T. Hall. During the winter months, the lodge convened at 6 o’clock P.M. and for the first seven years, met each week. In late 1857, the lodge moved to the Village of Edgerton, having their first meeting on December 2nd, 1857.
After moving, the lodge rented quarters again. in 1880, the lodge was occupying rooms over Croft’s Drug store at the corner of Henry and Fulton streets, where they remained until February 3rd, 1886. At that time, the lodge agreed to rent Royal Hall from Messrs. Maltpress and McGiffin for a period of ten years at an annual rent of $175.00 per year. In 1887, Fulton Lodge joined with the local Odd Fellows lodge to purchase Royal Hall at a price of $3,300.00.
After the turn of the last century, Fulton Lodge assumed the Royal Hall indebtedness and acquired the Odd Fellows ownership interest. W. W. Child, a 19th century Master of Fulton Lodge, was a significant contributor to the lodge, as well as Freemasonry in general. In fact, the W. W. Child Lodge No. 295 at Gays Mills in Crawford County was named for him in 1908.
In 1919, Fulton Lodge decided to erect a new building. The first meeting of the building committee was held Feb 7, 1919. Frank Pearson was delegated by the building committee to purchase the C. H. Dickerson property. This property was purchased for $3,000 with Mr. Dickerson contributing $1,500. Mr. John Rousch was given full responsibility of and for construction. Compensation to Mr. Rousch was to be 85 cents per hour and 10% above cost of labor hired by him.On October 15, 1921 a dedication ceremony was held at the new building. A parade with 2,000 Master Masons, led by the Tripoli Shrine Band from Milwaukee, preceded the dedication of the new facility by Grand Master William Weiler.
On the night of March 10, 1939, a banquet was held for the purpose of burning the mortgage. It was discovered at the last moment that after generous contributions from W. W. Child’s daughter and the Eastern Star members, the lodge was still $50 short of the mortgage balance. The final amount was contributed by Wisconsin’s Governor, Julius P. Heil, a fellow Mason.
Today, Fulton Lodge remains an active part of the Edgerton community. The lodge actively raises funds for local charities, allows local groups to use its buildings and facilities for community purposes, and many of its members raise funds for Shriner’s Hospitals for Children through the Zor Shrine Mini Cars.
To learn more about this lodge, contact:
To learn more about Freemasonry in General, we suggest visiting:
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To learn more about the Shriners, and Shriner’s Hospitals for Children:
Portions of this article are from Forward Freemasonry, Idling, Allen E. Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin, 1996. and from the records of Fulton Lodge #69.