American Agriculture

By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

I recently visited the 2015 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois.  This is premier agricultural show in the United States.  Though the official attendance isn’t released, estimates are that in excess of 200,000 person visit the show over the three days.

Modern American agriculture is nothing short of spectacular.  Science and technology are now imbedded in every facet of farming and agricultural production.  Today’s farmers are using precision farming techniques to reduce the amount of inputs applied to their fields, thereby reducing the environmental impact and significantly improving production efficiencies. 

Farm machinery is increasingly sophisticated, larger in size and equipped with the latest in digital technologies such as GPS, auto-steer and computer driven

My family has a long heritage of farming and involvement with agriculture.  My children are the eighth generation of our family to live in Champaign County, Illinois and we are still involved with agriculture.  

So what do agriculture and freemasonry have in common?  Freemasonry, like agriculture, has played a vital role in the development of many of our small towns across America.  The lodge was typically the place of social activities and many times was the largest building in the downtown area.   Its membership roles were populated with many farmers of the community.

I remember speaking with one of our older members of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) one evening and he told the story that on the lodge meeting night, all the farmers would come in out of the field, park the tractor, change into their “good clothes” and to go lodge.

There was something important that the farmers felt, even though they had much work to do, that they wanted to be in the lodge with their brethren.   

Despite all the technological changes in agriculture, like Freemasonry, its core values have not changed.  Farmers use the tools of the trade to continue to till the soil, plant the seeds and harvest the crops that feed a nation and world.  Freemasonry continues to nurture men who strive to grow and become better individuals, citizens, husbands, fathers and brothers.

Brother George Washington once said “I had rather be on my farm than emperor of the world.” 


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), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.  He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana.  He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society.  Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. 


  1. Great post WB Knott. It struck a chord with me since our lodge ( meets at a Grange Hall ( The Grangers, or "National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry" really seems to be a kind of copy of Masonry for farmers, Another way the the Craft is indirectly woven into rural America?

  2. Bob, thanks for your kind comments. I don't know a lot about the Grange, as they have never had a presence in my area, but without question Freemasonry has influenced all of the major and many minor fraternal groups in the United States.

    One item I didn't really touch on in the article is the effect on membership because of the increases in technology in farming. Because farms are so much larger, they take less people to operate them. Since WW 2 there has been a mass migration from the rural areas of the US to the urban/suburban areas. There simply are less farmers and others who made their living in occupations related to agriculture in our small towns, so the potential pool from which to draw members has dramatically dropped. Obviously many small town lodges have merged or shut down.

    None the less though, I think there are still great opportunities to draw those who live in our rural areas into membership. They may have to go one town over to find a lodge, but the opportunities are still there.

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