“There are no strangers in Freemasonry, only friends you’ve yet to meet”
– Bro. Rex David Thomas 

St. James Lodge received its charter on June 25, 1844, to accommodate Masons who had lost affiliation with a lodge in the Baton Rouge area at a time when the population was continually increasing. Two months prior, a group of industrious brothers met at the James McCalop “Sugar House” on April 22, 1844. It was at this point that the brothers began to discuss their vision that would eventually prove to be one of the longest living havens of Freemasonry in Louisiana.

First Presiding Officers

On April 22, 1844, the gathered brothers unanimously nominated Capt. D. F. Reeder, a mechanic and Royal Arch Mason as the lodge’s first Worshipful Master. John L. Lobdell, an attorney and Royal Arch Mason was nominated as the Senior Warden, and Dempsey D. Cain, a planter, was nominated the Junior Warden. One week later, the lodge appointed Secretary John T. Nolan, a physician, and Treasurer James McCalop. 

Senior Warden John L. Lobdell formulated the bylaws of the proposed lodge. 

Receiving the Charter

On May 25, 1844, the lodge members of the proposed lodge met to sign its petition to the Grand Lodge to be chartered. Six of the signers paid $7.00 (roughly $217 in 2020) each to cover the cost of obtaining the charter from the Grand Lodge. The lodge later refunded the brothers for their contributions. 

The Warrant of Constitutions, dated June 28, 1844, stated to open and hold St. James Lodge No. 47 in West Baton Rouge Parish, or within three miles of West Baton Rouge. This warrant was presented to the lodge secretary at a meeting on July 20, 1844, formally beginning the long life of a proud lodge. This meeting was also attended by Bro. Amos Adams, who would succeed Worshipful Bro. Reeder as Master of St. James Lodge in 1846 and be elected Grand Master of Louisiana in 1859. 

Early Milestones

St. James Lodge No. 47 initiated its first newly made mason on July 27, 1844 – Mr. J. P. Vaughn, a physician. The Lodge continued to operate under the original warrant until 1989 when Robert L. Buck” Kleinpeter, Past Grand Master, presented the Lodge with its charter. 

Many of the initial officers continued in their capacity throughout 1844, with Amos Adams being elected as senior warden. The annual report of the Lodge, dated Dec. 31, 1844, shows Worshipful Master Reeder and Amos Adams continuing in these stations for 1845, with many newly named brothers filling the the elected and appointed seats.