Elmo Lodge #465, Rippey, Iowa

By Marlene Radebaugh
Written for the Greene County Heritage Book , 201
Used by permission

    Elmo Lodge #465 was chartered in the city of Angus, Iowa, in the year 1884.  At this time, Angus was a city of several thousand people.  The coal mines in the employed many men and they needed housing and the various businesses to support these men and their families.  The men of the area also wanted the fellowship of a social organization and Elmo Lodge provided this with its goals of friendship, morality and brotherly love.

    It was not long before the miners work was over and they moved on.  Angus had a population of hundreds where there were thousands before.  Since some of the members were from Rippey, they succeeded in moving the charter to Rippey in 1894.  They met in an old barn-type building, which was formerly a church.  Later, the grocery store building was acquired and the Masons occupied the second floor.  The lodge prospered with many activities, such as pot-luck suppers, Mason & Star parties and other events, with many members taking part.  Times were good, until the recession of the 1980’s.  At this time our population and membership was declining.  People, especially young people, were leaving our area, so there were few opportunities to gain new members.

    The Masonic Lodge in Grand Junction was suffering also, so they consolidated with Elmo Lodge in 1988.  This was a gain in membership, but the trend of losing members continued.

    In 1991 the lodge building was becoming unusable.  In an extreme effort of the lodge members, led by Mahlon Correy, Jerald Fessler and a start-up donation by J. J. Peters, the old building was replaced with a new building in 1992.  Even with the great, new meeting place, our membership numbers continued to decline.  Finally, in 2009 we could see that we would need to consider closing.  After some discussion, it was decided to close the lodge and give our building to the City of Rippey to be used as a home for the Rippey Library.  The city accepted this offer on August 2, 2010 and the the process has begun to renovate the building to accomodate a library and community building.

     After the closing of the lodge,  the membership became members of other lodges of their choice.  Most now belong to Otley Lodge #299 in Perry.

    I feel personally heart-broken about the closing of Elmo Lodge.  You see, my grandfather, William Radebaugh, was instrumental in the Angus Lodge and bringing it to Rippey.  My father, Harold Radebaugh, was very active during our middle years and now I am so sorry to be a part of turning out the lights and closing the door.