The moral and benevolent institutions wield as great influence in their way as the Christian churches themselves. Of all the charitable and benevolent organizations Freemasonry is the most ancient and honorable. Not the least wonderful feature in Free masonry is its perpetual youth. All other orders have their time to die. Human governments flourish and then disappear, leaving only desolation in the places where their glory used to shine. But Freemasonry, originating so long ago that no history tells of its beginning, has survived the decay of dynasties and the revolutions of races, and kept pace with the marvelous march of civilization and Christianity.
Freemasonry was introduced into Hopkinsville in an early day. A lodge was chartered in 1816, of which Charles Caldwell was the first Master. It became dormant during the Morgan excitement, and the charter was surrendered in 1834. Among the members of that early period were found the names of many of Hopkinsville’s noted and business men: James Moore, James Ducker, Thomas and Robert Moore, Francis Wheatley, Gideon Overshiner, Samuel Shryock, James P. Caldwell, Nathan S. Dallam, Archibald Gant, Francis R. Dallam, Rezin Davidge, James H. McLaughlan, Robert P. Henry, Alexander Campbell, John Buckner, John P. Campbell, Samuel Finley, etc., etc.
Hopkinsville Lodge, No. 37, was revived under dispensation February 22, 1840, with Dexter Harding as the first Master. It was chartered in September following. Another lodge, No. 225, was established in Hopkinsville in 1850, which was, December 22, 1857, incorporated with the old one, under the title of Hopkinsville Lodge, No. 37. This was by joint request of the two lodges. The present officers of the lodge are: W. W. Clark, Master; Thomas Rodman, Senior Warden; H. H. Abernathy, Junior Warden; R. M. Fairleigh, Treasurer; R. W. Norwood, Secretary; Bryan Hopper, Senior Deacon; F. L. Waller, Junior Deacon; W. B. Lander, Tiler.
There is also a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and a Commandery of Knights Templar in Hopkinsville, and there was a Council of Royal and Select Masters when that branch of the order was in the zenith of its glory. The present officers of Oriental Chapter, No. 14, are as follows: M. E… J. I. Landes, High Priest; E. J. W. Pritchett, King; E. R. M. Fairleigh, Scribe; Comp. Thomas Rodman, Captain of the Host; Comp. B. W. Stone, Principal Sojourner; Comp. Frank Waller, Royal Arch Captain; William Skerritt, Ratcliffe Sutcliff and R. M. Anderson, Grand Masters of the Vails; Comp. G. W. Lander, Treasurer; Comp.; C. H. Dietrich, Secretary; Comp. W. B. Lander, Guard. Moore Commandery, No. 6, Knights Templar, is officered as follows: Eminent Sir B. W. Stone, Commander; Sir George Poindexter, Generalissimo; Sir Hunter Wood, Captain-General; Rev. Sir T. G. Keen, Prelate; Sir S. L. Salter, Senior Warden; Sir R. M. Fairleigh, Junior Warden; Sir J. W. Pritchett, Treasurer; Sir Nat. Gaither, Recorder; Sir William Skerritt, Standard Bearer; Sir F. J. Brownell, Sword Bearer; Sir H. B. Garner, Warder; Sir W. B. Lander, Captain of the Guard. Hopkinsville has furnished the State a Grand Master of Masons and a Grand Commander of Knights Templar in the person of Dr. R. M. Fairleigh. He served in the former position several years ago, and is at present filling the high and honorable position of Grand Commander of the State. Among the old members who served Masonry long and faithfully are James Moore, George Poindexter and Kirtley Twyman, the latter two still living, but the former has been called to the Grand Lodge on high. Many other faithful members of the fraternity might be mentioned, but the three referred to deserve special notice for their long labors in the lodge here below.
Odd-fellowship, the twin sister of Freemasonry in charity and benevolence, is represented in Hopkinsville by Green River Lodge No. 54, and Mercy Encampment No. 31. The following are the officers of Green River Lodge No. 54, I. O. O. F.: U. H. Moore, N. G.; W. C. Wright, V. G.; W. T. Bonte, Secretary; D. R. Beard, Treasurer. Mercy Encampment No. 31, has the following officers: W. C. Wright, P. C. P.; U. H. Moore, C. P.; H. F. McCaney, H. P.; W. D. Ennis, S. W.; W. T. Bonte, J. W.; J. B. Cheaney, Secretary, and D. It. Beard, Treasurer.
Evergreen Lodge No. 38, K. of P., was organized March 26, 1876, with nineteen charter members. The first officers were W. C. McPherson, P. C.; G. B. Underwood, C. C.; Joe McCarroll, V. C.; J. S. Chastain, Prelate; William L. Twyman, M. of E.; F. L. Waller, M. of F.; G. H. Speak, K. of it. and S.; James J. Bumpus, M. at A.; F. A. C. Myrick, I. G.; John B. Cheaney, 0. G. The present officers are: J. W. Cross, P. C.; Ben Thompson, C. C.; it. M. Anderson, V. C.; R. W. Henry, Prelate; J. S. Forrey, M. of E.; W. C. Wright, M. of F.; An-drew Seargent, K. of’ R. and S.; M. L. Elb, M. of A.; T. B. Burbridge, I. G.; C. W. Ducker, O. G. The lodge has ninety-four members.
There are a great many other orders and fraternities represented in the city, such as the Royal Arcanum, Knights of Honor, Golden Cross, United Workmen, Chosen Friends, Endowment Rank of K. of P. and a number of others, but our space will not admit of further notice.
The Hopkinsville Horticultural Gardens were once a beautiful place of resort, and occupied the ground where the amphitheater of the Agricultural Association now stands. The prime movers in them were Dr. Montgomery and Dr. David Glass, who established them in 1836. They were handsomely laid out and beautifully shaded with trees and ornamented with shrubbery and flowers. They displayed considerable refinement and taste, and it is to be regretted that they were allowed to pass out of existence. That they did pass away, is perhaps attributable to the fact that nearly every family has its own flower gardens and greenhouses. Hopkinsville is justly noted for the taste of its citizens in this regard-a taste that is commendable in any people.
Holland’s Opera House is an ornament to Hopkinsville. It is one of the finest theaters in the State outside of Louisville, and was opened in September, 1882. It is a three story brick building, has a frontage of 80 feet, a depth of 125 feet and a seating capacity of 700. In its construction, every precaution has been taken to guard against fire, and it is said that it can be easily cleared of a 600-audience in from three to four minutes. Much credit is due to the projectors of the building, and the people of the city should be proud of their opera house. We are not of those who believe that the theater is the by-way to perdition. Young people must have some place of amusement, and there are many worse places than a well-conducted theater.