TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka Masons held an open house and membership drive Wednesday evening at their lodge.

“The Masons got started in England in 1717,” said Mark Reeder, Mason member of Lakelodge No. 50 in Silver Lake. “When people came to North America, masonry came with them. Masonry is a fraternity that encourages self improvement. It’s about taking a man and making him a better man. We teach life lessons on how to become a better man, a better husband, a better brother and better citizen.”

Masonry is believed to be the oldest surviving fraternal organization in the world. Freemasonry can be traced to 16th century Scotland, although the first Masonic governing body was not founded until 1717 in London. By 1723, the Constitutions of the Freemasons were assembled and published.

From France and England, Freemasonry spread to most of Continental Europe during the course of the 18th century. The earliest known American lodges were in Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge of England appointed a Grand Master for North America in 1731, based in Pennsylvania.

Shriners International is a spin-off from Freemasonry, the oldest, largest and most widely-known fraternity in the world. Shriners International is a brotherhood of men who are committed to family, fellowship and making the world a better place. They seek to attract men of different backgrounds, career paths, ages and interests, and unique ideas, beliefs and perspectives. They serve children’s hospitals in 27 cities in the United States.