Friendship Lodge No. 53 was constituted during the dark days of the War between the States. The Charter is dated January 15th, 1862. in Cottenplant, Marion County was only sixteen years old and the county seat at Ocala was but a frontier village. John Milton was Governor of Florida. Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis shared the Presidency of a nation divided. A group of pioneer settlers from the western part of the county organized the Lodge and elected A. E. Burnside as first Worshipful Master, W. E. Sharp, Senior Warden; and N.L. Turner, Junior Warden. Unfortunately no record can now be found as to when Friendship Lodge was granted Dispensation to Work or who the Charter members were. Neither are there any recorded minutes for the year 1862. M:.W:. DeWitt C. Dawkins, Grand Master of Masons, opened the 32nd Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge of Florida in Tallahassee on January 13th, 1862. The Constitution of the Grand Lodge was adopted on this date. On January 15th, 1862 a Charter was granted Friendship Lodge No. 53. The By-Laws of Friendship Lodge were approved January 13th, 1862. Friendship Lodge, being a rural Lodge, could not boast of having a large membership, but from the records we know that there was never a lack of interest in Masonry or for the Spirit and Principles for which Masonry stood. Ready cash was scarce in the early days but they often went beyond their means to provide relief for those in need. Its members have risen to high offices in Religion, Public Service, Politics, and in Freemasonry. Around the turn of the 20th century, Friendship Lodge experienced a period of prosperity owing to the fact that huge tracts of virgin yellow pine in this area attracted a number of sawmills. One of the largest of these was located in Martel, a few miles east of where the Lodge was then located. On July 21st, 1913 a dispensation was granted to move the lodge to Martel. It was in 1917 when the timber became scarce that and the Lodge moved back to Cottenplant. In 1936 the property we are located on now became available and we moved to Fellowship. It was a one room Schoolhouse, the old Fellowship Elementary School. The Fellowship High School was on the same property and was donated to the Fellowship Baptist Church and is the location of the new church building.
The Lodge Building we are now in was built in 1985 and with true Masonic Ceremony was dedicated by M:.W:. Roy C. Sheppard, Grand Master of Masons in Florida.
What is Freemasonry?
It’s the oldest, largest and most prestigious Fraternity in the world. We’re kind of like a civic club, a charitable institution and a fraternity all rolled into one.
We’re like a civic club in that we do a lot for the community and statewide projects. We’re like a major charity in that we give almost $1.5 million away every day. But, most important, we are a fraternity for men doing good things for each other, and trying to bring men of good morals and ethics together in our community.
What is the Mission of Freemasonry?
To promote a way of life that binds like-minded men in a worldwide Brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences; by teaching the great principles of brotherly love, relief and truth; and by the outward expression of these through its fellowship, its compassion and its concern, to find ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbors and self.