On September 1, 1910, John Saunders Gooch (left) announced to a small group of Masons that he’d received a dispensation to establish a Masonic Lodge in Smyrna. Sam Davis Lodge No. 661 received a charter from the Grand Lodge of the state of Tennessee on March 11, 1911. Brother Gooch served as the first Worshipful Master until elections were held in December, 1911. From that humble beginning above the Peoples Bank of Smyrna, Sam Davis Lodge now occupies a 3,000 square foot building at 101 Mary Law Drive and has over 270 members. The original building still stands on present day Lowry Street.
Sam Davis Lodge #661
For the past 100 years, Freemasonry has thrived in Smyrna.
Charter members included: Rob L. Short, Sumner Sanders Jr., Henry G. Davis, Wilson Ward, G.H.Crossthwait, R.B. Denney, W.E. Fields, J.S. Gooch, Leroy Mckennon, Wm Short, J.C. Harris, W.H.Alexander, M.E. Neely, J.C. Hibbett, and J.C. McAdoo. The original charter, damaged by the great fire of 1913, still hangs in the lodge today.
Just as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and 13 signers (9 confirmed) of our Constitution were Masons, early architects of the town of Smyrna included members of Sam Davis Lodge such as John S. Gooch, Dr. W.J. Engles and Dr. J.S. Lowry.
Retouched by W.Garrison
John S. Gooch
Brother Gooch, the first Worshipful Master of Sam Davis Lodge No. 661, attended the Western Military Academy of Nashville with his boyhood neighbor Sam Davis prior to the civil war. He served as captain of E Company, 20th Tennessee Regiment and was seriously wounded during the war and he resigned his commission; honorably discharged from the army.
It was many years after the close of the war before he recovered from his wound. Since the war he has remained on his farm near Smyrna, and represents the true type of a Southern gentleman.
Dr. W. J. Engles
Brother Engles was Worshipful Master in 1914, served as the first mayor of Smyrna in 1915 after the town received a charter for the second time. His father Joseph had served as the first mayor of Smyrna when originally chartered in 1869. Brother (Dr) Engles attended the laying of the cornerstone of the original Methodist Church in 1872 and again after the church was rebuilt in 1925. Masons from the original Smyrna Lodge No. 221 had purchased the land on which the church was built from the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad in 1856 for $82. The church stands today at its original location on present day Sam Hagar Street in Smyrna.
Dr. J. S. Lowry
Brother (Dr) Lowry, for whom present day Lowry Street is named, accompanied a delegation led by then governor Prentice Cooper to Washington DC in November 1941. He was an ardent advocate for the creation of what eventually became Sewart Air Force Base (below). Brother Lowry was also instrumental in the establishment of Smyrna’s Maple View Cemetery.
Finding our Lodge -- A Place to Call Home
Since its inception in 1910, members of Sam Davis Lodge struggled for a place to call home. Committees were formed on numerous occasions to explore either building or renting a more suitable facility. However, except for a few years in the 1920s when they met in a building at 110 South Front Street, they remained in the bank building until the 1960s. A building fund had been established early on and added to over the years. In the late 1950s, the lodge bought land from Hubert Johns (Past Master of Sam Davis) and erected the current building at 101 Mary Law Drive. The building was completed in late 1962. The lodge more than doubled in size with the addition of a dining room and kitchen in the late 70s.
Finally, we must recognize our Brothers who formed Smyrna’s first Masonic Lodge, Smyrna Lodge No. 221 (1852-1886). Numerous early members of Sam Davis Lodge had also been members of the original Smyrna lodge including Brother J.S. Gooch, first Worshipful Master of Sam Davis Lodge who had also served as Worshipful Master of Smyrna Lodge No. 221. Joseph Engles, father of W.J. Engles, was on the Smyrna Lodge roll prior to the civil war.
Finding our Lodge -- A Place to Call Home
Throughout the last 100 years, members of Sam Davis Lodge worked their farms and raised their families. They opened and operated businesses, built churches and schools, sidewalks and roads. They served in the military and as elected public officials. They advanced the cause for fire and police protection and promoted the establishment of Sewart Air Force Base in the 1940s. For the last 100 years, Sam Davis lodge has done what Masons do—take good men and make them better.
Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the Masonic Fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them as a deserving brother. 12 — George Washington
sources: G.W Quote from — MountVernon.org (read more)
Sam Davis Lodge #661 is a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons operating within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. The intent of this web site is to serve as an expanded method of communication, for both Lodge members and members of the general public who may be interested in Freemasonry.