Clyo Lodge no.280 F&AM




A History of Clyo Lodge No. 280
Free and Accepted Masons
Clyo, GA
Established October 31, 1872
Clyo Lodge is the "Oldest Existing Chartered Lodge of Freemasons in Effingham County."  This phenomenon is a source of curiosity among citizens and Freemasons of this county and has its roots in the economic and cultural history of a small village in northeastern Effingham.  The community of Clyo has a long history in the region which stretches back to the earlier part of the nineteenth century.  Clyo is located in the center of a natural hub of large timber resources, water transport landing sites, i.e. Tuckasee King, the Stagecoach Road and Sister's Ferry.  From the close of the Civil War in 1865 to the coming of the railroad in the 1870's the area saw progress and positive change.  Since the area was blessed with good farmland and prolific crops, container and canning industries were brought to the region to process and ship vast quantities of cotton, syrup, sweet potatoes, vegetables, turpentine and resin.  This brought to the area new people to service industries.  This natural center soon prospered during this Reconstruction era in the South.  Most of the inhabitants of Clyo were primarily Salzburger descendants from Ebenezer.  There were also many black families who had for generations lived and worked in the surrounding area.  Clyo is a small unincorporated village with no municipal laws or services, but somehow it has managed to survive as a community for well over 150 years.
It appears that the forces which sustained the unity of Clyo were its Churches, Masonic Lodge and the heritage of an industrious and caring populous.  Clyo Masonic Lodge is an excellent example of that spirit.  Clyo Lodge No. 280 was established in the early 1870's as Confederate veterans and many others returned to their homes and began the rebuilding of their community.  This post war industry soon set the stage for the establishment of a new Masonic lodge, to begin its labors in the community.  Clyo Lodge No. 280 is now the "Oldest Existing Chartered Lodge of Freemasons in Effingham County."  Little is known of the history of Masonry in Effingham prior to the founding of Clyo Lodge.  One of the earliest Freemasons in Effingham in the Clyo area was John Adam Treutlen.  Most prominent of the Salzburgers at Ebenezer, he was the first popularly elected Governor of Georgia, and a 1780 member of the "Old English Lodge" at Savannah, Solomon's Lodge founded on February 21. 1734.  Despite the scarcity of early records there was a Masonic lodge in Effingham County which predated Clyo Lodge.  This lodge was known as Houstoun Lodge No. 18.  Houstoun Lodge was chartered in 1803 under the Grand Lodge of Georgia, located in Springfield it later ceased to operate in 1819.  Clyo Lodge then became the inheritor of the title of the "Oldest Existing Chartered Lodge in Effingham."  Since its founding it has built for itself a reputation for fraternity, service, and community spirit.
In 1872 the founding members of Clyo Lodge petitioned Grand Master Samuel Lawrence of the Grand Lodge of Georgia for a dispensation to form a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons at Springfield, Georgia.  The petition was favorably received and a charter was soon issued on October 21, 1872 under the title "Springfield Lodge No. 280, to be held at Springfield, County of Effingham." Clyo Lodge No. 280 was known as Springfield Lodge No. 280 from 1872 until 1913.  It was renamed Clyo Lodge No. 280 in 1913. Sixteen years after Clyo's name was changed from Springfield Lodge No. 280, Egypt Lodge No. 440 assumed Clyo Lodge's old name and became Springfield Lodge No. 440 in 1929.  Both of these lodges are still in existence in Effingham county.  Although the Minutes and Record books of Clyo Lodge from 1872 to 1923 are missing, information concerning the early days of the lodge has been preserved through, oral tradition, Grand Lodge returns, proceedings and fragments of past minutes and correspondence of the lodge. 
As recorded in the Grand Lodge "Book of Charters" it was under the leadership of B. A. Porter, the first Worshipful Master of Springfield Lodge No. 280, J. N. Derrick, Senior Warden, J. Austin, Junior Warden and eight other Master Masons, that Clyo opened lodge for the first time.  The first decade of Clyo Lodge was marked with a substantial growth in membership.  In 1873 there were eleven registered brethren in the lodge, by 1879 there were no less than forty-eight.  This early prosperity stimulated Clyo's members to encourage and help in the formation of lodges throughout Effingham and its adjacent counties.  During the next thirty years three lodges benefited from the membership and experience of the brethren of Clyo Lodge.  These three lodges were Rocky Ford Lodge No. 372 (chartered Oct. 27, 1892), Guyton Lodge No. 428 (chartered Nov. 2, 1899), Egypt Lodge No. 440 (chartered Oct. 31, 1901) later renamed Springfield Lodge No. 440 in October 29, 1929.
In the fall of 1892 three members of Clyo Lodge (E. E. Foy, C. C. Wolf, and W. R. Thompson) helped establish and charter Rocky Ford Lodge No. 372 in Rocky Ford, Screven County.  Rocky Ford Lodge was a "Moon Lodge" which means it scheduled its meetings on the "Tuesday on or before the full moon in each month at night." It was the custom of Freemasons, in country lodges, to schedule their meetings nearest a full moon so that they might be able to travel at night by moonlight.  Rocky Ford lodge consolidated with Sylvania Lodge No. 301 after ninety years of existence on May 6, 1982.  Again in the winter of 1899 five Clyo members (W. S. Saffold, M.C. Tarver, H.R. Tarver, and Rev. R. G. Cartin) were original charter members of Guyton Lodge No. 428 in Guyton, Effingham County.  In the fall of 1902 four more Clyo members (Rev. R. G. Carting, E. E Foy, W. W. Griffin and C. G.Wolfe) were charter members of Egypt Lodge No. 440.  The Rev. R. G. Cartin a member of Clyo Lodge was the first Worshipful Master of both Guyton Lodge No. 428 and Springfield Lodge No. 440.
From 1873 to the med 1900's Clyo Lodge kept its regular meetings on the "Fourth Friday in every month."  Springfield Lodge No. 280 changed its name forty-one years later in 1913 to Clyo Lodge No. 280.  With the opening of the 1900's brother Augustus H. Mallory, initiated in the 1870's, became one of Springfield Lodge's earliest patrons.  Concerned for the lodge, brother Mallory presented on September 26, 1902, the land on which Clyo's Lodge hall now stands.  The Mallory deed states: "That Augustus H. Mallory of the first part, for and in consideration of thirty dollars, to him in hand paid by the said Springfield Lodge....the said the very use, benefit and behoove of said Springfield Lodge No. 280 F. & A.M...their successors and assigns in Fee Simple forever."  Shortly after acquiring the land a building was constructed, which is used to this present day as the Masonic lodge hall. The hall is erected in the old style, being two stories with the lodge meeting on the second floor.  On July 26, 1907 evidence of settling into the new building is recorded in the minutes stating: "It was moved and passed that the lodge purchase a desk for the use of the Secretary and build a cabinet (for regalia storage)" also expressed is the fact that "The lodge received and accepted a report from the committee on painting" the building. A freshly painted Clyo Lodge hall soon became the center for both lodge and community activities.  In 1904, Clyo Lodge began its first charity towards the Grand Lodge of Georgia's Masonic Children's Home in Macon.  Clyo Lodge still continues after a century to send charitable contributions to the Masonic Children's Home.  In April of 1907 the Worthy Grand Matron Mrs. Senie M. Hubbard sanctioned the founding of the first Clyo Chapter Order of the Eastern Star No. 27 in Clyo, Georgia.  The creation of this early Eastern Star Chapter encouraged the civic participation of many of the wives and daughters of Clyo's Masonic community.
Patriotism in Clyo Lodge was very strong and always emerged when the nation was faced with foreign conflicts.  During the late 1800's Clyo furnished soldiers for the Spanish American War in Cuba.  With the opening of World War I in 1918 some of the lodge's brethren enlisted, or were already in standing units and militia.  As Clyo's sons marched off to war they were by no means left unarmed. To offer them protection J. A. Allen, the Worshipful Master of Clyo Lodge issued each member a "Masonic Voucher for distress" which was written in English, French and German. Each "Masonic Voucher for distress" was intended to appeal to English, French and German Freemasons for aid.  Each patent carried into the field stated: "Clyo Lodge No. 280 F. & A. M. at Clyo, Georgia, U.S.A. presents and vouches for (brother's name) as a worthy Freemason, and so commends him for brotherly care and lawful aid to any Mason who may find him in distress or need incident to his service as an American soldier with the assurance that any necessary expenditure incurred will be repaid by his body, and all courtesies extended will be deeply appreciated."  This assurance of aid by the lodge must have been greatly appreciated by the soldiers Clyo.  Despite the distance and ferocity of the war in Europe morale on the home front in Clyo was raised by the efforts of local aid groups, Clyo Lodge and the ladies of the Eastern Star.  An effort was made by the ladies of the Eastern Star and the communities to hand make needed items for American soldiers in Europe.  There was also a Red Cross Chapter in Clyo for the rolling of bandages and other necessities.
Throughout the war there was a great deal of excitement in Clyo. Many soldiers from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, passed through Clyo on the Seaboard Air Line Railway to the port of Savannah bound for Europe.  Following the Armistice of 1918 Clyo Lodge brethren came home and soon began to restart their lives.  The records of this early period from its founding until 1924 are virtually nonexistent.  Clyo Lodge's oldest Masonic member is Benjamin Frank Arnsdorff whose Masonic membership reaches back seventy years this year, 2004.  Brother Arnsdorff has witnessed more than half the life of the lodge and provides a invaluable oral record.  B. F. Arnsdorff was Worshipful Master of Clyo Lodge No. 280 in 1938, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1973 and during the lodge's Centennial in 1972. Brother Arnsdorff's fond recollections of his Masonic life and the activities of the lodge speak of such things as the Annual Picnics at Pineora along with Springfield and Guyton Lodges. The Annual family Barbecues and the long standing tradition of Clyo Lodge having "Oyster Stew" at the Annual Meetings of the lodge.  Research reveals this tradition in an old bill of the lodge dated 1912 from E. M. Mingledorff "Dealer in General Merchandise."  The bill reads: "Springfield Lodge, 5 gallons of Oysters, cost, $4.00, Railway express - .25 cents, labor - .50 cents, total $4.75, with discount from E. M. Mingledorff of .50 cents, for a balance of $4.25." Brother Arnsdorff also recounted the lodge supporting the boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other civic organizations by allowing use of its building. Clyo Lodge also supported the International Order of Odd-Fellows (IOFF) allowing the fraternity to rent the facility. 
Past Master Arnsdorff stated his pride at becoming a Freemason on November 9, 1934.  Arnsdorff was raised a Master Mason on December 14, 1934. He immersed himself in Masonry by immediately beginning the coaching of new Masons in their catechism. Brother Arnsdorff has spent his life in service to his community, his faith and his Masonic lodge.  On September 13, 1972 Clyo Lodge No. 280 held its Centennial Celebration.  Over one-hundred brethren from seven first district lodges, Springfield Lodge No. 440, Guyton Lodge No. 428, Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, Acacia Lodge No. 452, Newington Lodge No. 503, Solomon's Lodge No. 1, and Landrum Lodge No. 48 were present for the auspicious occasion.  The meeting was opened by Worshipful Master Benjamin F. Arnsdorff. A brief history of the lodge was given by Brother George A. Gnann which recorded the loss of the lodge's early documents due to the ravages of time.  Then a brief history of Clyo's Order of the Eastern Star Chapter was presented by Secretary Joulanda Bota.  The centennial oration was given by the distinguished Jurist George E. Oliver Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.  The minutes record that Most Worshipful Brother Oliver gave an inspiring address recalling the lodge's venerable past, its noble presence and its promising future.
Some of the family names of the members of Clyo Lodge No. 280 read like a "Who's Who" in the history of Effingham county.  Family names such as the Morgans, Foys, Tarvers, Mallorys, Austins, Arnsdorffs, Gnanns, Exleys, Porters, Grahams, Scotts, Derricks, Wilsons, Edwards and the Groovers comprise the roles of Clyo Masonry.  It is doubtful that the first Worshipful Master of Clyo Lodge No. 280, B. A. Porter and the founding brothers ever dreamed that from such a humble beginning their lodge would continue for more than 130 years in the life of Effingham county. Many men have raised their hope in "the brotherhood of mankind" by passing through its Masonic portals.  May the lives of the members of Clyo Lodge in the years to come, reflect the same honor and glory to its name as its sons have so nobly done in the past on every occasion when opportunity offered.  So mote it be!
Compiled by:
Robert Shig Porter, Historian
Robert Shig Porter, II, Associate Historian
Solomon's Lodge No. 1 F. & A. M. Savannah, Georgia