Masonic Artifacts Can Tell A Story

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Gregory J. Knott

One of the things I enjoy most is walking through antique stores looking for Masonic artifacts.  On a recent trip through Decatur, Illinois, we stopped at a very nice shop and I set upon my hunt.  They had a few items, but none of them really caught my interest until I ran across a small framed case with 3 medals in it.  Upon closer review I knew that these were Knight Templar Medals.

SK Orlando Powers
The three medals were from Beaumanoir Commandery No. 9, which was and still is at home in Decatur, Illinois.  The medal on the left is the Order of the Temple member medal, the middle is a Past Eminent Commander’s jewel and the one of the right is a drill attendance medal with a number 32 on the bar in the middle.

As I was checking out, I asked the clerk if she knew of any history of these medals.  I was in luck because she did!   It turns out they belonged to Orlando Powers, who was an early prominent settler of Decatur.  He was born in 1812 and came to Decatur in 1849 and died in July 1902.

Powers Opera House
Bro. Powers built a tremendous Opera House in 1889 at Decatur where many of the most prominent settlers of the day performed.  It burned to the ground in 1895 and was later rebuilt, but burned again in 1914.  His son built a hotel on the same site that is still run as a residential hotel today.

The Powers Mansion--haunted some say . . .
But it is the Powers Mansion that seems to be his real legacy today.  According to a couple of websites that I visited, the mansion seems to be haunted.  Perhaps the ghost of Orlando Powers is still looking over his house.

I couldn’t find a Masonic record for Bro. Powers.  I can only assume he belonged to a local lodge and perhaps other York Rite bodies.   

But it was purchasing these medals and learning about a man who died over 110 years ago and seeing his impact upon the Prairie of Illinois that gave me the greatest pleasure.

~GK

 WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

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