Grand Lodge of Texas
name=Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M.
caption=Seal of the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M.
April 16, 1838
The Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons is the largest of several governing bodies of
Freemasonryin the State of Texas, being solely of the Ancients' tradition and descending from the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, founded in 1751. It was originally founded as "The Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas, A.F. & A.M." on 16 April 1838. [Carter, James D. (1955). "Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846", pp. 312-313. Waco, Tx: Comm. on Masonic Education & Service, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.] With 890 lodges and 105,000 members it is the fifth largest Grand Lodgein the world.
Founded: 16 April 1838 [Carter, James D. (1955). "Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846", pp. 312-313. Waco, Tx: Comm. on Masonic Education & Service, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.]
Descent: G.L. of Louisiana, F. & A.M.; G.L. of South Carolina, A.Y.M.; G.L. of Pennsylvania, F. & A.M.; Ancients Grand Lodge of England. [Normand, Pierre G. Jr. (2004). "The Pedigree of the Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.," "Transactions: Texas Lodge of Research," Vol. XXXVIII (2003-2004)]
Jurisdiction: The State of Texas.
Grand Lodge Offices: 715 Columbus St.; Waco, Texas.
Postal Address: P.O. Box 446; Waco, TX 76703
Annual Meeting: First Friday in December.
Number of Lodges: 889
Membership (est.): 105,000 ["2006 List of Lodges Masonic" (2006). Bloomington, IL: Pantagraph Printing Co.]
Early History of Freemasonry
Freemasonryhas its historic origins among the early lodges of stonemasons and architects that, utilizing the style of Gothic architecture, built the cathedrals of Middle Ages. They were called "Freemasons" because they were free men and not serfs, their lodges were free from taxation, and they worked in freestone, a type of quarry stone. During the 17th century, lodges in Scotlandbegan "accepting" members who were not operative stonemasons. The acceptance of these gentlemen Freemasons gave rise to the name "Free and Accepted Masons." In their ceremonies of passing from one degree to another they inculcated a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by the symbols and tools of their craft. During the 18th century, lodges formed grand lodges to govern the craft. No longer operative as of old, Masonic lodges continued without interruption to observe the customs and traditions of the fraternity for the benefit of mankind. [Normand, Pete (1986). "The Texas Masons: The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas", pg. 3. College Station, Tx: Brazos Valley Masonic Library & Museum Assn.]
Freemasonry in America
The early American colonial lodges were chartered by the grand lodges of
Europe. Many of the founders of the United States and their allies were Freemasons: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, the Marquis de Lafayette, Baron von Steubenand others. Washington was the Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 when he leveled the cornerstone(see " foundation stone") of the United States Capitolin 1793. [Normand, Pete (1986). "The Texas Masons: The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas", pg. 3. College Station, Tx: Brazos Valley Masonic Library & Museum Assn.]
Early Masonry in Texas
11 February 1828, Stephen F. Austincalled a meeting of Masons at San Felipe de Austin for the purpose of petitioning the York Grand Lodge of Mexicofor a charter to form a lodge. Although the petition reached Matamoros, and was to be forwarded to Mexico City, nothing more was heard of it. By 1828 the ruling faction in Mexico City feared that the liberal elements in Texas might attempt to gain independence, and being aware of the political philosophies of English-speaking Freemasons, the Mexican government outlawed Freemasonryon 25 October of that year. The following year, Austin called another meeting of Masons who, in an attempt to alleviate the fears of the Mexican government, decided it was "impolitic and imprudent, at this time, to form Masonic lodges in Texas." [Normand, Pete (1986). "The Texas Masons: The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas", pp. 3-4. College Station, Tx: Brazos Valley Masonic Library & Museum Assn.]
In March 1835, five Master Masons met "in a little grove of peach or laurel" at the town of Brazoria, "near a place known as General John Austin's," and resolved to petition Grand Master
John H. Hollandof the Grand Lodge of Louisianaasking for a dispensation to form a lodge in Texas. Foremost among these five Masons was Anson Joneswho would later serve as Grand Master, and as President of the Republic of Texas. [Jones, Anson. "Free Masonry in Texas: A Reminiscence of its Early History." Reprinted in "The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas", Vol. I, pp. 6-7; by A. S. Ruthven, Gr. Sec.; (publ. 1857) Galveston, Tx: Richardson & Co.]
That charter, creating Holland Lodge No. 36, was issued and signed on
27 January 1836. It was given to John M. Allenof Louisiana Lodge No. 32 to carry to Texas. Allen had been recruiting volunteers for the Texas Armyin New Orleans, and would not reach Texas until just before the Battle of San Jacintoon 21 April 1836. [Carter, James D. (1955). "Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846". Waco, Tx: Comm. on Masonic Education & Service, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.]
Freemasons and the Texas Revolution
Meanwhile, Texas was in the midst of war. The first shots of the
Texas Revolutionhad been fired in October 1835 at Gonzales. Delegates had gathered at the small town of Washington-on-the-Brazosand signed the Texas Declaration of Independenceon 2 March 1836. The Mexican Army under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Annahad crossed the Rio Grandeand attacked and defeated the small garrison at the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar. Among the nearly 200 defenders who died at the Alamo were Freemasons James Bonham, James Bowie, David Crockett, Almaron Dickenson, and William Barrett Travis. [Normand, Pete (1986). "The Texas Masons: The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas", pg. 4. College Station, Tx: Brazos Valley Masonic Library & Museum Assn.]
There has existed for many years the story or myth that General Santa Anna, captured on
21 April 1836after the defeat of the Mexican Army after the Battle of San Jacinto, was able to save himself from execution by giving secret "Masonic signs" when he was captured, and again when he was brought before General Sam Houston. Texas historian James D. Carter recorded in his book, "Masonry in Texas", that "Texas Masons contemporary with [the Battle of] San Jacinto stated emphatically that Santa Anna 'filled the air' with Masonic signs after his capture and had given a Masonic grip to Houston." C.R. Wharton, in his book, "El Presidente", stated that "Santa Anna, fearing for his life, gave the Masonic distress signal to John A. Wharton." Where it may be true that the captured Mexican dictator did appeal to his captors to spare his life, using his knowledge of Masonic signs and grips, they were under no obligation to do so for several reasons. Santa Anna had disowned the Masonic fraternity and outlawed its practice in Mexico,Fact|date=October 2008 further his many offenses against Mexican and Texan Freemasons placed him outside the protection of any Masonic obligations,Fact|date=October 2008 and most importantly, Santa Anna was worth more to Texas alive than dead. President Andrew Jackson, a member of the same Masonic lodge as Sam Houston, Cumberland Lodge No. 8 at Nashville, Tennessee, wrote to Houston and implored him to spare Santa Anna's life, reminding Houston that "while he is in your power, the difficulties of your enemy, in raising another army, will be great.... Let not his blood be shed, unless imperious necessity demands it.... Both wisdom and humanity enjoin this course in relation to Santa Anna." [Carter, James D. (1955). "Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846", pp. 284-286. Waco, Tx: Comm. on Masonic Education & Service, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.]
Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas
The Masonic Convention of December 1837: By the end of 1837, three lodges had been chartered in Texas by the
Grand Lodge of Louisiana: Holland Lodge No. 36 which had moved to the city of Houston, Milam Lodge No. 40 at Nacogdoches, and McFarland Lodge No. 41 at St. Augustine. On 20 December 1837, Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas, presided over a convention meeting in the city of Houstonconsisting of the representatives of these three lodges. The representatives were: From Holland Lodge: Sam Houston, Anson Jones, Jeff Wright, and Thomas G. Western; from Milam Lodge: Thomas J. Rusk, I. W. Burton, Charles S. Taylor, Adolphus Sterne, and K. H. Douglas; and from McFarland Lodge: G. H. Winchellwas delegated to represent McFarland Lodge. The representatives there assembled resolved to form a "Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas," and to that end they elected Anson Jones as the first Grand Master of Masons in Texas, and other officers. After approving a resolution that the first meeting of the Grand Lodge should be held "on the third Monday of April next," the convention was then adjourned. It is clear from the minutes of this convention that, although a Grand Master was elected, he was not yet installed, and although a resolution to form a Grand Lodge was approved by the convention, it had not yet done so. The birthdate of the new Grand Lodge was still four months away. [Jones, Anson; Secretary of the Convention. "Convention of Master Masons," (20 December 1837). Reprinted in "The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas", Vol. I, pp. 9-10, by A. S. Ruthven, Gr. Sec. (publ. 1857) Galveston, Tx: Richardson & Co.]
The Grand Lodge is Born - 16 April 1838: As the delegates to the previous convention had agreed, they met again on the third Monday, the 16th of April 1838 in the city of
Houston, although only three of the six elective grand officers were in attendance: the Grand Master-elect, the Senior Grand Warden-elect, and the Grand Treasurer-elect. Nevertheless, the minutes state that the "Grand Lodge was opened in ample form," [Shepherd, Wm. M., Gr. Sec. "pro-tem". Minutes of the Grand Lodge for 16 April 1838. Reprinted in "The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas", Vol. I, pg. 11, by A. S. Ruthven, Gr. Sec. (publ. 1857) Galveston, Tx: Richardson & Co.] and, according to Texas historian James D. Carter, "the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was ended," making 16 April 1838the birthdate of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas. [Carter, James D. (1955). "Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846", pp. 312-313. Waco, Tx: Comm. on Masonic Education & Service, Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.] It may be of some historical interest to note that three and one-half weeks later, on 11 May 1838, the Grand Lodge met again and installed the Grand Master and his officers. [Fischer, George, Gr. Sec. Minutes of the Grand Lodge for 11 May 1838. Reprinted in "The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas", Vol. I, pg. 19-20, by A. S. Ruthven, Gr. Sec. (publ. 1857) Galveston, Tx: Richardson & Co.] As a result, this latter date, 11 May 1838, is the birthdate of the Grand Lodge given in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. [Coil, Henry W. (1961). Article: "Texas", pg. 651. "Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia" (rev. ed. 1996). Richmond, Va: Macoy Publ. Co."]
Early Texas Lodges
The following is a list of 28 lodges organized under the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas. They are listed along with their final charter dates and original locations: ["Directory of Constituent Lodges in Texas". (2005-2006) Waco, Tx: The Grand Lodge of Texas.]
Famous Texas Freemasons
Stephen F. Austin- "Father of Texas" - Louisiana Lodge No. 109, Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Sam Houston- "Hero of San Jacinto" - Cumberland Lodge No. 8, Nashville, Tn.
William Barrett Travis- "The Defender of the Alamo" - Alabama Lodge No. 3
James Bowie- "The Greatest Fighter in the Southwest" - Loge L'Humble Chaumiere No. 19, Opelousas, La.
David Crockett- "King of the Wilderness" - (lodge unknown - his Masonic apron, entrusted to the Sheriff of Weakley Co., Tn., has survived with the family of E. M. Taylor of Paducah, Ky.)
James Bonham- "Alamo Defender and last messenger to leave the Alamo and return" - (So. Carolina lodge records destroyed by fire in 1838)
James Fannin- "Defender of Goliad" - Holland Lodge No. 36, Brazoria
Anson Jones- "Last President of the Republic of Texas" - Harmony Lodge No. 52, Phila. Pa.
Lorenzo de Zavala- "First Vice-President of the Republic" - Logia Independencia No. 454 (Gr. Ldg. of New York), Mexico City.
* Jose Navarro - "Texas Patriot and Legislator" - American Virtue Lodge No. 10, Saltillo, Mexico.
Juan Seguin- "Tejano Patriot" - Holland Lodge No. 1, Houston.
* Lawrence S. "Sul" Ross - "Soldier, Statesman, Knightly Gentleman" - Waco Lodge No. 92, Waco.
R.E.B. Baylor- "Founder of Baylor University" - Baylor Lodge No. 125, Gay Hill, Tx.
Benjamin F. Terry- "Founder and Commander of Terry's Texas Rangers" - Holland Lodge No. 1, Houston.
Thomas S. Lubbock- "Commander of Terry's Texas Rangers" - Holland Lodge No. 1, Houston.
Charles Goodnight- "Plainsman and Cattleman" - Phoenix Lodge No. 275, Weatherford, Tx.
* Jimmie Rodgers - "The Singin' Brakeman, Father of Country Music" - Blue Bonnet Lodge No. 1219, San Antonio, Tx.
Audie Murphy- "Most Decorated American Soldier of World War II" - No. Hollywood Lodge No. 542
Gene Autry- "The Singing Cowboy"
Claire Chennault- "Founder of the Flying Tigers"
* Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin - "2nd Man on the Moon" - Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417, El Lago, Tx
James "Red" Duke- Chief of Trauma Center at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston, and the Creator of the Life FlightHelicopter System, the first air ambulance service in Texas.
Masonic Home Independent School District
* [http://www.grandlodgeoftexas.org/ Grand Lodge of Texas official website]
* [http://www.grandlodge-england.org/ United Grand Lodge of England official website]
* [http://www.srmason-sj.org/ Scottish Rite Supreme Council official website]
* [http://www.yorkrite.org/ York Rite website]
* [http://pentium2.gower.net/Community/tlr/ Texas Lodge of Research website]
* [http://www.tranquilitylodge2000.org/ Tranquility Lodge: A Lodge Chartered for the Moon]
* [http://www.tsrhc.org/ Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children official website]
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