The year 2017 is marking important milestones not only for the city of Carthage but for a number of groups and organizations that have built this community.

The year 2017 is marking important milestones not only for the city of Carthage but for a number of groups and organizations that have built this community.
Earlier this year we marked the 175th anniversary of Carthage's founding and the 100th anniversary of the opening of Mark Twain school.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, the Carthage Masonic Lodge No. 197 marked its 150th year with the dedication of their newly completed building at 1339 Oak St. in Carthage.
Masons from across Southwest Missouri came to Carthage on Saturday to join local members in an elaborate ceremony marking the official dedication of their building.
Jerry Maggard, secretary for the Lodge, said the Masons have been using the building since 2013, but the ceremony on Saturday marked its official dedication and consecration.
“It's the formal dedication of our building,” Maggard said. "We've been in the building for a few years now and it was informally dedicated so we could use it for Masonic purposes until we had the building complete. It's still under construction in some ways, we still have some small projects to finish, but this is the official formal dedication that we decided a while ago to hold on our 150th anniversary.”
Maggard and other Masons collected the history of the club and the prominent Carthage names that made up its rolls in a 20-page booklet they wrote and offered to members and visitors at Saturday's ceremony.

Early Lodges
Freemasonry in Carthage can trace its history to a lodge that was founded in 1849.
The Masonic Lodge No. 103 existed until the start of the Civil War in 1861 and met on the second story of a general store on the southwest corner of Main Street and North Street, now Third Street, on the second floor of a general store owned and operated by J.M. Linn, but the fate of that group and its members is lost to history.
“The only reference to the cessation of the Masonic Lodge in Carthage is 'the lodge was burned out' in 1861,” Maggard write in the history booklet. “We can only surmise what this phrase means or represents. During the Battle of Carthage in July of 1861, Union and Confederate forces fought in the Carthage Square with infantry, cavalry and artillery. The wooden structures of the time, including J.M. Linn's general store, could have suffered battle damage, caught fire and burned — we do not know and there is no record to substantiate this assumption.”
Maggard said the current Lodge No. 197, traces its history to 1867 and the rolls of that early club read like a roll call of Carthage streets and organizations.
Norris C. Hood, the Jasper County Sheriff when the war started, returned and helped found the second Lodge; Malcolm McGregor, for whom McGregor Street is named; Eber Budlong, for whom Budlong Street is named, George D. Orner, for whom Orner Street is named; Albert Drake, builder of the Drake Hotel; John “Cherry” Griggs, the namesake for Griggs Park; John A. Carter, who donated the land for Carter Park; and many more were all members of the Carthage Masonic Lodge.

Lifelong friendships
“It's a fraternity, it's about fellowship,” Maggard said. “Just as our book shows, there are people from all walks of life that are a part of the Masons. You meet people that you might never have had a chance to otherwise, we have multi-millionaire businessmen and truck drivers and farmers and doctors, a multitude ot people, and when you're in lodge, you're all the same. You're all brothers. It doesn't matter what your stature is outside the lodge, it's just a neat fraternity.”
Chad Waggoner, Worshipful Master, or leader, of the Lodge, started his year-long term in September and said he's honored to hold the post in a year that marks such an important anniversary.
“The ceremonies we have in Masonry, they predate the formation of the United Grand Lodge in England in 1717, and some of them can be traced even further than that, so going through the motions and doing the ceremony itself, it gives us a connection to how things were done hundreds and hundreds of years ago and that have continued throughout time,” Wagoner said. “In today's very disposable society, fast food, the internet, things changing so fast, it's nice to have that direct connection to the past as we move into the future.”
Wagoner said even people in today's fast-food, internet society can benefit from a group that keeps its roots in history.
“I've been involved and done a lot of reading on Facebook pages and follow podcasts and what we're finding is that younger people today are looking for a deeper meaning in life,” Wagoner said. “They're looking for something deeper, and those that are really searching are finding themselves attracted to Free Masonry because of those connections to the past, because of the life lessons that you learn and Free Masonry teaches.”