THE FIRST 100 YEARS
SACRAMENTO LODGE No.40
COLONEL ANDREW FULLER RODGERS
Andrew Fuller Rodgers, one of the original petitioners of Sacramento Lodge was born in Howard County, Missouri, on October 13, 1827, the son of Ebenezer Rodgers, a Baptist Minister, and Permelia Jackson (Rodgers). When Andrew was six years old his family moved to Upper Alton, Illinois. His father was one of the first trustees of Shurtleff College in Upper Alton and at an early age Andrew was sent there for his education.
At eighteen he left school and worked on the farm of his married sister, near Upper Alton, for four months, leaving to volunteer in Company E. 2nd Illinois Infantry under Col. Bissel for service in the Mexican War. He took part in the famous Battle of Buena Vista where General Zachary Taylor, with an army of 6,000 men, defeated Santa Ana with an army of 20,000 men.
Mustered out at the end of his year enlistment in June 1847, he left Camargo at the mouth of the Rio Grande and took ship for New Orleans. On the voyage he was striken with fever and could barely walk on arrival at New Orleans. From there he traveled by boat up the Mississippi to Alton, again enrolling in Shurleff College. In the spring and summer of 1848 he and his brother John farmed and made plans to cross the plains to California.
In April 1849 the two brothers, joining a nine-wagon train, left St.Joseph, Missouri. Traveling up to the Iowa line, crossing the Missouri at old Fort Kearney, thence to Fort Hall they made their way, after many unusual and some very exciting adventures, to Hangtown (now Placerville), California, arriving in July. There the party divided their supplies and separated, Andrew and his brother locating at Coloma on the American River where gold was discovered. At the approach of winter the brothers went to Cold Springs and built a cabin, later moving to Downieville where they worked during the summer. In the autumn they built a cabin at Nevada City and mined during the winter of 1850 and the summer of 1851. Andrew then decided to return home but in Sacramento he located a former schoolmate from upper Alton, sick & sorely in need of a friend and money. Deciding to stay with his friend in need, Andrew obtained an appointment as Deputy Sheriff under Benjamin McCulloch, serving until expiration of the latter's term in the spring of 1852. Then again joining his brother, the two returned to mining on Frenchman's Bar. In the fall of 1852 the brothers started for home by way of the Isthmus following the Graytown route to New Orleans. From New Orleans they travelled by boat up the Mississippi, arriving at Alton in November. John remained at home and studied medicine but Andrew was anxious to return to California, and in January, 1853, started his return by the same route the brothers had taken home. After crossing the Isthmus he had the misfortune to board the ship INDEPENDENCE, leaving San Juan del Sur for San Francisco on February 16, 1853. Off the coast of Margarita Island, Lower California, she struck a rock, immediately starting to sink and catching fire. Of the passenger list of 400, more than 150 were drowned, the rest gaining the shore destitute. Andrew was instrumental in saving the lives of many at his own peril. For three days they were without food and water but were finally rescued by whaling vessels. On arriving at San Francisco, Andrew was without funds but he finally made his way to Sacramento and was appointed Deputy Sheriff under A. D. Patterson. At the expiration of Patterson's term of office he returned to mining at Camptonville, spending the fall and winter of 1853 and 1854. Receiving word of the death of his father in May 1855 he left for home arriving in Alton during a cholera epidemic. He remained for a time cultivating his father's land and in 1856 purchased an interest in a saw mill and cleared the farm which he had in the meantime purchased from his father's estate. After a trip to New Hampshire he arrived home in 1859 and started construction on a large frame house on his farm. Upon completion of the house, he married on May 31, 1860 Jane Frances Delaplain taking her to their new home where they remained for two years. Andrew's family consisted of five children - John Benjamin Rodgers, Katherine Rodgers (Philips), William Langdon Rodgers, Sara Rodgers (Burnett) and Henry Fuller Rodgers. It was through the kindness of Sara Rodgers Burnett that this biographical sketch was made possible. At the outbreak of the Civil War Andrew Rodgers raised nearly three companies for the Union Army and received the rank of Captain of one of them and was ordered to Centralia, Illinois. In 1862 the 80th Illinois regiment was organized and he was given command with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was wounded in the battle of Perryville and confined to a hospital for a time but returned to his regiment to lead it in a number of successful engagements against General Forrest, being finally captured at Rome, Georgia. Colonel Rodgers was confined with other officers in the notorious Libby Prison at Richmond, Virginia where he was kept in a condition of filth for a year. He was removed to Macon, Georgia at the time of the advance of the Union forces on Richmond. When he left home as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 80th Illinois regiment his mother presented him with a sword engraved with his name and the Square and Compass. When captured and thrown into Libby Prison the sword was confiscated and some of his friends who had been in the Southern Army attempted to recover it without success. After a lapse of 42 years with hope for its recovery at low ebb the sword was returned to him by a stranger, but a brother Mason. For many years it had been used in a Masonic Lodge in Texas and after the death of the man who had taken it, his brother returned it to the original owner. The sword is now in possession of his daughter who lives in Alton. Col. Rodgers was finally exchanged with others, for Southern officers and he arrived home in 1864. His commission as Colonel was sent to him dated April 27, 1863.
After a rest, he raised the 144th Regiment to 800 strong, armed them, and was offered command as Colonel by Gov. Yates. He refused it however as he was broken in health from his prison confinement and resigned to return to his home on the farm. In 1870 he was elected to the State Legislature of Illinois. He took an active part in County Fair development and in the Farmer's Northwestern Fire Insurance and for several years devoted much time and energy to the Piasa Chautaqua. In 1896 he was Mayor of Upper Alton which has since been incorporated in the larger City of Alton. Brother Rodgers was initiated, passed and raised early in 1853 by Madison Lodge No. 101 of Alton, Illinois which lodge is now defunct. He dimitted from that lodge and was elected a member of Washington Lodge No. 20, of Sacramento, on May 19, 1853. When Sacramento Lodge applied for its dispensation, Brother Rodgers was one of the original petitioners and dimitted from Sacramento Lodge No. 40 and on May 2, 1857 affiliated with Franklin Lodge No. 25 of Alton, Illinois, serving that Lodge as its Worshipful Master during the year 1861. Not only did Brother Rodgers take an active part in Blue Lodge, he received all of the Royal Arch Chapter degrees in Franklin Chapter No. 15 R. A. M. during the Grand Chapter year July 1, 1854 to June 30, 1855. He was elected and served as High Priest of Franklin Chapter No. 15 R. A. M. during the year 1869. At the consolidation of Alton Chapter No. 8 and Franklin Chapter No. 15 on December 15, 1915, he became a charter member of the new consolidated Chapter named Franklin Chapter No. 8 and was a member at the time of his death. He was also a member of Belvidere Commandery No. 2 Knights Templar, Alton, Illinois, receiving the Order of the Temple on November 25, 1861. Brother Rodgers died on January 20, 1922 at the age of nearly 95 years.
Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.
Proofread by Betty Vickroy.
© 2007 Sally Kaleta.