The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Christopher L. Hodapp, PM, 33°
The Grand Lodge of Indiana tasked Chris Hodapp with writing a history of Indiana Freemasonry on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge. Rather than follow the path that previous authors have travelled, offering a chronological look, he has taken rarely discussed topics and stories involving Indiana Freemasonry, laid them before the reader, warts and all, as other writers have not. Heritage Endures is a series of essays, stories, and opinions from one of the most noted living authors on the subject of Freemasonry.
Hodapp begins Heritage Endures by looking at Dwight Smith, PGM and his impact on Indiana Freemasonry. Today, Smith is remembered for his long tenure (31 years) as the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Indiana and as author of Goodly Heritage. Released in 1968, it was the last history of Indiana Freemasonry. Hodapp gives the reader insight into the many years of Smith’s nearly single-handed planning of the Grand Lodge sesquicentennial in 1968. He further details the astonishingly elaborate statewide celebration itself and later the difficulties Smith overcame to write Goodly Heritage. Heritage Endures looks at Smith, his motivations and the external influences during the years he spent accomplishing the aforementioned endeavours.
An early chapter details the locations of the twenty-seven blue signposts that have been erected by the Grand Lodge of Indiana at historic locations. Hodapp’s comfortable storytelling shines while explaining the historic event that initiated the erection of each sign. In a subsequent chapter, the story of the fledgling frontier of E-Masonry in Indiana allows him to once again display his easy going, yet engaging style. If the reader has heard Chris Hodapp speak, one might hear his voice while reading the stories of Brother Harry Truman’s 1948 visit to Indiana, the birth and progress to date of Compass Park and the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana. He also takes the reader on the journey of the meeting places and the locations that the Grand Lodge has called home. The reader travels throughout Indiana, ending in Indianapolis; there, the stories of the rise and fall of the first two buildings and finally the construction of the current building, Freemasons’ Hall, is told. Throughout all of this, Hodapp’s engaging style transcends the page.
The history of how the State of Indiana came to be and the many influences involved in its birth is good reading for Masons and non-Masons alike. This chapter is ground that had been travelled by previous authors, although none have covered the terrain with the same detail as Hodapp. He uses this deep look into the state’s history and to shine a light on those Masons who were involved in its formation.
The two chapters containing themes that have, until now, received the least coverage are on topics that will draw the most controversy: Prince Hall Freemasonry in Indiana and Masonry and the Klan. In the former, Hodapp digs into the beginnings and evolution of Prince Hall Freemasonry, its early stages in Indiana and its history up to its recognition by the Grand Lodge of Indiana. The latter looks at how Freemasonry was almost, along with portions of the state itself, hijacked by a traveling salesman, with his allies, selling a message from a group that preyed upon the fearful of the day. These chapters will be enlightening to all, with many revelations. The chapter on Prince Hall Masonry in Indiana may be the first to go into such depth, while the look at the Klan will prove to be uncomfortable to good Brothers.
Declining membership has been on the mind of Masons for decades. Hodapp looks at membership from the beginning of Indiana Masonry to the present, including both internal and external influential events. Some of these external influences on the Order are cultural and economic, while the internal include the effects of the one-day-class and petitioning age. He concludes the chapter by offering his opinions on how we might approach the membership problem. This chapter contains something for Masons universally.
Heritage Endures will have its detractors. There will be some who expected a chronological look, while others will go after Hodapp himself for the topics selected or for the unflinching manner with which he recounts these topics. If you enjoyed Hodapp’s previous books, Heritage Endures will delight.
Reviewer: Christopher Kimmel, PM
Publisher: Grand Lodge of Indiana, F&AM (January 13, 2018)
Hardback, 512 pages
Price: $25.00 (plus shipping)