Collection: University of Arkansas Library
Source: Masonic Trowel Newspaper
Scanned by James Whitlow
Masonic Trowel Newspaper
George Thornburgh was born in Illinois and moved to Smithville, Arkansas as a child. He attended law school in Tennessee and was admitted to the bar in 1868. He later opened a law office at Powhatan, Arkansas in 1873.
Thornburgh was very active in the Masonic Fraternity. Raised a Master Mason in Smithville Lodge #29 in 1868, he served as Worshipful Master in Smithville and Powhatan Lodges before moving to Walnut Ridge in 1886. He was a member of Aurora Lodge #423 and also organized the Walnut Ridge Council #30, Royal and Select Masters.
Thornburgh was a prolific writer. While in Walnut Ridge, he became involved in the newspaper business. He bought the “Lawrence County Democrat” newspaper and changed the name to “The Telephone”. He also started a very successful newspaper called “The Masonic Trowel”, which he published in Walnut Ridge from 1887 to 1890, when he moved to Little Rock and took the newspaper with him. It became the official publication of the Arkansas Grand Lodge for many years.
Thornburgh served four terms in the Arkansas State Legislature, and served as the Speaker of the House.
May 10, 1888 – Powhatan Courthouse Cornerstone Ceremony
This volume of the “Masonic Trowel” has a very interesting story about the cornerstone ceremony for the new courthouse in Powhatan in 1888.
On May 10th, 1888, the cornerstone of the courthouse in Powhatan was laid by the Masonic fraternity. Lodges present were Powhatan, Aurora, Portia, Thornburgh, Dry Creek, Ravenden, Smithville, and Rock Cove.
Those representing the Grand Lodge officers from Aurora Lodge in Walnut Ridge were J.M. Phelps (president of Lawrence County Bank) as Grand Senior Warden, F.E. Taylor (Pastor of Walnut Ridge United Methodist Church) as Grand Junior Warden, A.C. Phelps as Grand Steward, and A. B. Israel (the first Worshipful Master of Aurora Lodge) as Grand Master of Ceremonies. A procession formed at the Lodge Hall in Powhatan and marched to the courthouse with the Lawrence County elected officials and the Portia Band playing music.
The following is a partial list of items placed in the cornerstone (the paper is very hard to read):
List of officers of Walnut Ridge, Portia, and Black Rock; Roll of attorneys; Map of Lawrence County by B.F. Mathews; Copy of report of commissioners who located the first county seat at Davidsonville, copied by Miss Laura Wells; List of architects, contractors, etc..; Memorandum as to laying cornerstone; List of officers of Powhatan and Ravenden Lodges; a $100 Confederate Note; a vial of native wine made by C.H. Penn and contributed by W.A. Townsend; a vial of wheat raised by H.M. Lawson, contributed by C.T. Stuart; a vial of olive oil contributed by J.H. Martin; a one dollar Little Rock bond, contributed by Rev. G.A. Dannelly; report of Secretary of State for 1886, contributed by Clay Sloan; copy of road and school laws, and other items that I cannot read.