Near the little town of LaGrange, Kentucky lived a small farmer who raised turkeys for the New Orleans market. He was away with his Thanksgiving and Christmas drove when a note fell due. The sheriff came to collect by sale of the house. With wife and daughter weeping, a tall, slender, dignified gentleman rode up and inquired on the reason for the sale. The sheriff explained the reason; the man commanded the sale to stop at once, asked what was owed on the claim, and paid for it with his own note. The horses were returned to the barn and he comforted the wife and daughter. The generous stranger was James Stapleton Crutchfield.
James Stapleton Crutchfield, born in 1800, lost his father at the age of 10. He had two winters of education in the public school and was a self educated man, a cousin to General Zachary Taylor, and for eight years managed the large Taylor farm. He was the youngest man to be the Master of Fortitude Lodge in 1825 at the age of 25. He was also the youngest man to be sheriff, he was appointed to that position by the Governor when Oldham County was formed at the young age of 23 and served for eight years.
Fortitude Lodge #47 is listed in the Grand Lodge records in 1844 as meeting in LaGrange, Kentucky. During the Civil War period all the lodge memberships were hurt. There were 6 lodges in Oldham County between 1844 – Present
Fortitude Lodge #47 1844 – Present LaGrange
Westport Lodge #165 1848 – 1897 Westport
Oldham Lodge #169 1848 – 1879 LaGrange
Pythagoras #365 1859 – 1886 Goshen
Robert Mallory #479 1869 – 1884 Ballardsvile
Rowe Lodge #529 1872 – 1886 Floydsburg
From 1848 through 1879 there were 2 Masonic lodges in LaGrange, Kentucky, Fortitude Lodge #47 and Oldham County #169. Fortitude held their membership a bit better as the other Lodges in Oldham County gave up their Charters. The Grand Lodge transferred their members to Fortitude which gave it added life. In 1874 Fortitude Lodge #47 had its lowest number of members, only 31 are listed in the Grand Lodge records. By the beginning of 1900 through the twenties membership grew till we had more members in 1930 than we have now.