FARMERS LODGE # 168 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons

"A Lodge with History, Making History."

 The Civil War Era

Organized in Washington County by Men from Richmond and Daytonville who moved to Foote.
Substantial Growth During Civil War.

Civil War Soldier from Foote, Iowa.

  The Farmers Lodge #168 Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Kinross, Iowa has a particularly rich tradition that began 145 years ago at Foote P.O., Greene and Fillmore Townships, in Iowa County in the year 1863.   This is one of the oldest and longest continuously operating lodge organizations in the  area.  Historically, the Farmers Lodge was organized by officers and members of the Dayton Lodge # 149, near Wassonville, Lime Creek Township, Washington County, and who were also charter members of the Masonic Lodge # 96 at Richmond, Iowa that was organized in 1855.   Many of these same men met in special session at the Dayton Lodge  and asked for a dispensation in May 1863, to begin a new lodge in Greene Township, Iowa County, slightly south and east of the Greene Valley School.   The Farmers Lodge was officially chartered in 1864.  Nelson Rogers, formerly of Richmond, became the first Worshipful Master.  Nathan Littler, elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1863 and merchantile business partner of Harmon Henkle of Hinkletown, visited the lodge regularly and was instrumental in its upbuilding and success.

The lodge experienced significant growth 1863 -66, during and immediately following the Civil War, with several veterans returning home to Foote, and becoming members and officers in the lodge.   The heritage of this fraternal brotherhood includes some very unique individuals.

Sgt. Nicholas C. Messenger, Company I, 22nd Iowa, was a hero at Vicksburg, who on the 22nd of May, 1863, led a group of men to capture Fort Beauregard.  His valiant efforts have been described in several accounts by notable war historians of the time regarding his heroic actions.  Nick Messenger enlisted from Foote, Iowa on August 18, 1862, and was mustered out on July 25, 1865. 


Jerome Palmer, Company B, 28th Iowa


Flag from Company B, 28th Iowa Infantry, hand sewn by the ladies of Marengo, Iowa County, Iowa, was carried by into battles by Company B and bears the artillery shots and blood stains of one of its carriers.  The large flag is now preserved at the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Jerome Palmer (left), one of our early lodge members, enlisted in Company B, 28th Iowa Infantry on July 24, 1862 and served in the Civil War for three years.  He was promoted to company fifer on April 6, 1863, and was in battle with the flag.  He mustered out at Savannah, Georgia on July 31, 1865, and returned to the Foote area, working with Harmon Henkle and Franklin Pettibone, both lodge members, at Hinkletown, Foote P.O.  He married Pettibone's daughter Mary Ann.


Benjamin F. Booth and David W. Connelly left the Foote neighborhood to enlist into Company I, 22nd Iowa,  along with several of their friends.  It was the beginning of a journey that would lead to their capture at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 and imprisonment in some of the worst of human conditions ever experienced, first at Libby and then the infamous Salisbury prison.  In prison Booth noticed that Confederate and Union men who were Masons had a special bond, even though they were on opposing sides.  He vowed if he got out of there alive he would join the lodge.  He weighed 81 lbs. at the time of his release, and returned home with typhoid pneumonia.  Thanks to the loving attention of his wife Sarah, Benjamin F. Booth returned to good health, and he and his neighbor David Connelly both joined the Farmers Lodge # 168, while remaining in the Hinkletown area until the early 1870s, when B.F. Booth moved to Victor, Iowa, in Hardin Township, Iowa County.  He and Sarah later moved to Brooklyn, Iowa and then to Indianola.  In 1897, Booth published his book Dark Days of the Rebellion, Life in Southern Military Prisons (at right), with the diary of information he kept on scraps of paper while in prison.  Although published a full 30 years after the war, the country was not yet ready to revisit the tragic experience, and Booth's book did not sell well.  

Benjamin F. Booth, an early member of Farmers Lodge #168 wrote his account of life in Libby and Salisbury prisons during the Civil War.  Booth Publishing Company, Indianola, Iowa, 1897.   His work was republished by Steve Meyer, Meyer Publishing in 1996, with some nice commentary and interpretation of the times.

     Several more Civil War soldiers returned home to Foote and joined our Lodge:


The businessmen of Hinkletown (above) were the principle officers and members of Farmers Lodge # 168 during the 1870s.  Each of their business locations is noted in the map above (1874).  These included Edwin H. Dixon, James A. Miller, John F. Baughman, William Watkins, William Carter, C.F. Lytle, B. F. Pettibone, Adam Wiseman and Philetus Axtell.  Harmon Henkle, the namesake of Hinkletown, was an early lodge member in 1863, and was treasurer for several years.  His general store is shown at the far right, north side of Main Street.  Philetus Axtell's blacksmith shop is located on the left end, north side of Main Street (marked "B. Sh.") Jerome Palmer worked for Henkle and Pettibone. These dozen businessmen of Hinkletown were key leaders of Farmers Lodge # 168 during the peak of Hinkletown's existence.


Edwin H. Dixon was a sergeant in Company D, 18th Iowa Infantry.  When he returned from war, he engaged in the mercantile business at Hinkletown, Foote P.O. (at left), with business partner James A. Miller.  Miller moved with his parents to Iowa in 1854 and entered land in Greene Township, near the site of the Greene Valley School, and what became the first location of Farmers Lodge # 168.  After the breaking out of the Civil War, he journeyed over to Illinois and enlisted in 1864, Company B, 150th Illinois Infantry. His career as a soldier was cut short by the close of the war in 1865, when he was mustered out and came back to Foote.  Dixon and Miller both joined the Farmers Lodge, each holding officer positions during the time they ran the general store on Hinkletown's Main Street.  Philetus M. Axtell was a Corporal in Company H, 2nd Iowa Infantry, and when he returned became one of multiple blacksmiths at Hinkletown, and a lodge member and officer during the 1860s.  Jerome Palmer, was a fife player for Company B, 28th Iowa Infantry, a lodge member and officer, and business associate of Harmon Henkle and B.F. Pettibone.  John F. Baughman, Physician and Surgeon, was the town doctor for Hinkletown, also located on Main Street.  He was Secretary of the Farmers Lodge for several years during the 1870s.  William Watkins, who settled at Foote in 1852, operated brick manufacturing for 14 years at the Hinkletown site, and was an officer in our lodge during the 1870s.  William Carter also ran brick manufacturing at Hinkletown and was a lodge member during the 1870s.  C.F. Lytle, also a member and officer of Farmers Lodge operated a general store and was post master of Foote Post Office on the south side of Hinkletown's Main Street.  B. F. Pettibone and Adam Wiseman, both lodge members, operated the Henkle sawmill during the 1870s.  Harmon Henkle, an early lodge member of 1863, ran several businesses in Hinkletown, including the Pioneer General Store of Henkle and Littler.  Nathan Littler, Henkle's partner, was a State Representative and Lodge member from Washington County, visiting our lodge often.

General Store letterhead of Dixon and Miller, 1879, Foote, Iowa County, Iowa.  Both were Civil War veterans and Lodge Officers.

Map showing Hinkletown, Foote Post Office and proximity to the English River, and the village of Green Valley, 1874.  The Farmers Lodge # 168 began meeting in adjoining Greene Township (to the east), occasionally at the Foote Post Office at Hinkletown, and in the 1880s, over the general store at Green Valley, located on the English River (see Green Valley Mill on map above.) 


Hinkletown, Foote P.O., 1874:  (Left) From the Atlas of Iowa County, Iowa,  Harrison and Warner, Clinton, Iowa, 1874.  This is the earliest known published layout of Hinkletown.

By this time the town had begun to experience a decrease in size and population, with the relocation of Harmon Henkle, an early lodge officer, his family and several business associates, to the new railroad town of Keota, Iowa, nine miles directly south, in January of 1872.  Farmers Lodge member Jerome Palmer built Henkle's new general store in Keota.  Henkle, Palmer and several of their Hinkletown associates helped organize a new Masonic lodge in Keota, Adelphi Lodge # 353.  Hinkletown rebounded for a short period, until another railroad town of Kinross, four miles south, was established in 1879. 

Edwin H. Dixon and James A. Miller, both Civil War veterans, and lodge members opened a store on the north side of the Main street, (above left), and C.F. Lytle operated the store and Post Office on the south side of the street. 

In 1901, the Farmers Lodge #168 petitioned the Grand Lodge of Iowa to be able to move to Kinross, the new center of population, after several of the lodge members and businessmen of Hinkletown physically relocated their businesses and homes to Kinross.

Our lodge was able to grow again at Kinross, and for many years met in the 2nd floor of the 2-story brick block downtown. 

Above: 1864 Officers and Members of Farmers Lodge # 168

Above: 1866 Officers and Members of Farmers Lodge # 168

Above: 1868 Officers and Members of Farmers Lodge # 168

Below: The Schools at Hinkletown that educated our lodge members for the future.

The second Hickory Ridge Schoolhouse at Hinkletown was built about 1874. This photo was taken approximately 1899 - 1901.  The first school was a log cabin built by early settlers in the summer of 1849 and was documented by Jeremiah M. Suiter and brother Mordecai Suiter, settlers of 1846.  The first school was called Hickory Grove, and was built on a hill just west of Hinkletown.  Mordecai Suiter was a member of Farmers Lodge # 168.  Several students who attended this school became members of our lodge.


The third Hickory Ridge Schoolhouse at Hinkletown was built in 1906.  This photo was taken on July 4, 1907.  Teacher - Nellie Kernan, Photographer - V. L. Berryhill.  Our current W.M. of Farmers Lodge # 168 attended this school, and he was nearly taken up by a tornado there in 1937.  He was headed out the front door to the outhouse when the funnel came across the field toward the school. A school mate chased Don down the road and pulled him into the road ditch just in time.

Harmon Henkle of Hinkletown, Treasurer of Farmers Lodge # 168 for several years, Charter member of Adelphi Lodge # 353, Keota, Iowa.  Started first general store and bank at Keota, Iowa.


Farmers Lodge # 168 to be        featured in the upcoming:

 Video Documentary

Currently in Production:

"Rediscovering Hinkletown"

A Prairie Ghost Town

Scheduled for Release 2010

If you have photographs or stories to share,





Portrait of Harmon Henkle at left:  From A Genealogical and Biographical History of Keokuk County Iowa, Chicago and New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903


Our Farmers Lodge members who were Civil War heroes and veterans are being reenacted by the 24th Iowa Infantry,
1st Wisconsin Cavalry, and Red Cedar Regulators.

Copyright 2007 -, Farmers Lodge # 168, English Valleys History Center, North English, IA,  and Historic Photo Archives, Klemme, Iowa

Video Documentary "Rediscovering Hinkletown" Planned for Release 2010

Farmers Lodge Current Events

Masonic Adventure

Member List 1863 - 1963

Hinkletown Home Page

Masonic Adventure:  Seeking Our Masonic Treasures, Groundhog Day 2008

Earliest Published Account of a Hinkletown Settler and Farmers Lodge Member- 1847
(Music Alert- Hinkletown Bluegrass)

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