There seems to be some disagreement as to the exact date of the beginnings of the Geneva Lodge. In the Standard History of Adams and Wells Counties, Indiana (1918) it was reported that Geneva Lodge No. 621, A. F. & A. M., was organized July 29, 1898 (A. L 5898), while John Snow wrote in his book (Snow’s History of Adams County Indiana, 1907) that Geneva Lodge, No. 621, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was instituted on the 6th day of August, 1898.
The official date, however, probably is May 23, 1899. In the 1979 History of Adams County, Indiana, it was recorded that Geneva Lodge No. 621, F. and A.M. was chartered the 23rd day of May, 1899. Charter members of Lodge No. 621 were Frederick J. McWhinney, John E. Lung, Charles E. Reicheldiffer, William C. Campbell, Charles D. Porter, James B. Broas, William B. Hale, John P. Scheer, James H. Hardison, Adolph Liebert, Silas W. Hale, Frank Rinehart, James B. Brown and Rinaldo Sumption.
The Indiana Grand Lodge, F. and A.M., appointed the following officers for that first year of Lodge No. 621. They were: W.B. Hale, Worshipful Master; W.C. Campbell, Senior Warden; Frank Rinehart, Junior Warden; Silas W. Hale, Treasurer; John E. Lung, Secretary; James B. Broas, Senior Deacon; Fred E. Lindsey, Junior Deacon; Rinaldo Sumption, Senior Steward; James H. Hardison, Junior Steward; and Adolph Liebert, Tyler.
Snow also reported in 1907 that “The lodge rooms are in the Herr block, which is a large two-story brick building, with business rooms on the ground floor and halls above. This property now belongs to the Masonic order and is located on the north of Line Street in about the center of the town and is a valuable piece of property.” (Snow’s History of Adams County Indiana, 1907)
The lodge continued to meet at this location until a winter storm in January, 1999, caused a large amount of roof and structural damage to the lodge building. With declining membership already becoming a problem, members of the Geneva Lodge No. 621 began to look at their options for the future.
The Merger of Decatur Masonic Lodge 571 and and Geneva Masonic Lodge 621
After meeting at the same location since the inception of the Lodge in 1899, the Geneva Lodge was unexpectedly without a home when a winter storm in January, 1999, caused a large amount of roof and structural damage to the Lodge building. With declining membership already becoming a problem, members of the Geneva Lodge began to look at their options for the future.
After much discussion and exploration of its options, Geneva Lodge No. 621 decided to approach Decatur Lodge No. 571 about the possibility of a merger. These talks began in August, 1999, and continued for nearly a year. Finally in May, 2000, the two lodges agreed to merge their respective memberships.
On June 26, 2000, after over 100 years of continuous existence, Geneva Lodge No. 621 closed its doors and officially became part of the Decatur Lodge No. 571.
Members of the former Geneva lodge and community adjusted quickly to their new home with several taking active leadership roles. William E. Warren, PM, served as Worshipful Master of Decatur Lodge No. 571 in 2006. Terry Bollenbacher, PM, a resident of Geneva. joined Decatur Lodge in July, 2000, and served as Worshipful Master in 2007. Jeffrey Bauman, PM, is the current secretary of Decatur Lodge, having served in that position since 2002. Other former members of the Geneva Lodge continue to serve as officers and sit on various committees.
1979 History of Adams County, Indiana. Dick D. Heller, Jr. and Lawrence Beckmeyer. (Authors). Decatur, Indiana: Adams County Historical Society, c1980-1989.
Snow’s History of Adams County, Indiana. J. F. Snow [John Fletcher Snow, 1854-1933]. (Author). Indianapolis, Indiana: B.F. Bowen, 1907
Standard History of Adams and Wells Counties, Indiana, John W. Tyndall, ed., Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1918.