A History of Benton County Masons

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

Hi Everyone. Aren't we having beautiful weather. Several trees still have beautiful leaves. No so pretty though all over my yard.

The Mason Organization was established in America in 1717. The entry of the Masons in Philadelphia was June 14, 1731. From the Masons earliest beginnings it admonished its members to provide support for widows and orphans, especially those of former Masons. This care was initially provided by local lodges. The first Masonic Home in the United States was established by Kentucky Masons in 1866, the Masonic Widows and Orphans Home and Infirmary in Masonic Home, Kentucky.

Tennessee's Masonic Charter was December 20, 1847. The first Masonic Home that went into effect by the State of Tennessee was February 3, 1913. Today thirty-nine state Grand Lodges maintain homes and eleven still have orphanages.

The following are of people who were helped by the Mason from Benton County. Charlie Pafford born October 7, 1875, and Mae Myers born May 3, 1877, were married March 16, 1898. To this marriage were six children. The oldest, a son Harley, was killed at the age of 15 in Blockton, Arkansas. September 1, 1913, Charlie died in Blockton, Arkansas, at the ate of 38. This family had moved there from Benton County looking for work. Mae's father went to Arkansas and moved Mae and the girls back. Charlie was a Mason he also had a cousin at that time who was a Grand Marshall of the Lodge.

This cousin Blake Pafford was also a member of the Tennessee legislature. Mr. Pafford arranged for Mae and the girls Marie, Nellie, Sylvia, Geraldine and Delphia to enter the Masonic Home in Nashville, Tennessee. Mae and the girls got to share a room together. Mar worked in the kitchen and sewed for some of the residents.

As children living in the home reached the age of 16 years they were required to leave. After three had left, Mae returned to Benton County with the youngest. Marshall Pafford provided money for Geraldine to finish school. Geraldine Pafford Walker taught school in Benton County for several years, and was a hearing and speech pathologist for many years. She helped start the Benton County Developmental Center and was one of the first Head Start teachers in 1965. Delphia Pafford Wilson ran the Benton County Rest Home several years.

Dr. R.L. Barker was a Mason and only 42 years old when he died. He and three other doctors in Camden, Dr. J.M. Smythe, Dr. A.S. McGille, and Dr. Lew W. Dougherty, were planning on opening a clinic. Dr. Barker died in 1914 leaving his wife Lessie (who had paralysis) and five children, Irl, Reuben, Clifford, Lois, and Wade. Only three went to the Masonic Home; Clifford, Lois, and Wade. This family shared a cottage together. Mrs. Barker read the Bible to a blind man on the porch of the Old Men's Home also provided by the Masons. They went into the home in 1915 and stayed three years. The three doctors mentioned above and Dr. Savage in Nashville who was treating Mrs. Barker, helped this family get into the Masonic Home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mr. Clifford Barker was a successful business man in Camden. He owned and operated C.L. Barker and Son Jewelry Store on the south side of the court square for about 30 years.

In 1972 the Benton County fair was selected as the "Champion County Fair" by the Tennessee Association of Fairs. It was an honor which was bestowed upon the local fair several times. Clifford Barker, long time manager of the fair, worked hard to make it one of the top fairs in the state.

John Clinton Ross was born March 20, 1861. He was a Mason. He was married to Angelica Wade Ross. To this marriage were seven children. Mr. Ross passed away September 23, 1920, at the age of 59, leaving his widow and children Bertie, Macie, Dicie, Earlie, Carl, Fred, and Clyde. Carl, Fred and Clyde, with their mother, went to the Masonic Home in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1920. Carl and Fred were put into the boys' dormitory on arrival at the home. Clyde stayed with his mother until a certain age, then was put with his brothers. Mrs Ross worked in the laundry room. Those helping Mrs. Ross and children get into the home were Monroe Garner, Will Matheney, and John and Edd Clement.

Thought for the week:

Being tickled to death is a great way to live. Jumping for joy is good exercise.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

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