Masonic membership was often the one common denominator among the early settlers and adventurers that came to Texas in the early 1800’s. Men of different backgrounds and cultures often found a hearty welcome in the “friendly grip” of a brother Mason’s handshake. The first Mason known to have entered Texas was Major Zebulon M. Pike, a member of Lodge No. 3, Philadelphia. He came in 1806 and 1807, scouting the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers, and the Spanish settlements of the Rio Grande.
As the winds of Texas’ war of independence began to blow in the fall of 1835, there were many Masons in the foremost positions of authority, both military and political. The Texans’ first shot was fired by Eli Mitchell on October 2, 1835, near Gonzales. He and his commander, Colonel John H. Moore, were both Masons.
Masonic historian Dr. James D. Carter counts twenty-two known Masons among the fifty-nine signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, signed at Washington-on-the Brazos on March 2, 1836. Records from the early 1800’s are often incomplete and sometimes non-existent. As a result, some memberships cannot be verified and many Masons are left uncounted.
On March 6, 1836, after thirteen days of siege, the fortified Mission San Antonio de Valero, known as the Alamo, fell to the final onslaught of Mexican troops under the dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Among the 188 Texans who died that day, only a handful can be reliably identified as members of the fraternity.
THE GRAND LODGE OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
By the end of 1837, three lodges had been chartered in Texas by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana: Holland Lodge No. 36, Milam Lodge No. 40 at Nacogdoches, and McFarland Lodge No. 41 at San Augustine. On December 20, 1837, President Sam Houston presided over a convention of representatives of these three lodges in the city of Houston, and elected Anson Jones the first Grand Master of Masons in Texas.
By 1846 Masons had served in nearly every major governmental post in the Republic. All the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Republic of Texas were Masons. In 1844, George K. Teulon, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas, addressing a gathering of Masons in Portland, Maine, observed “Texas is emphatically a Masonic Country: Our national emblem, the ‘Lone Star’, was chosed from among the emblems selected by Freemasonry, to illustrate the moral virtues — it is a five-pointed star, and alludes to the five points of fellowship.” Freemasonry in Texas has grown in the last 169 years. Today there are over 110,000 Masons in 889 lodges in The Grand Lodge of Texas, making it the fourth largest grand lodge in the world. Texas Masons can take just and lasting pride in their Texas Masonic heritage.
The first meeting of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas was held in Houston on April 16, 1838. The following is a list of lodges in the Republic of Texas:
Holland No. 1 Houston
Milam No. 2 Nacogdoches
McFarland No. 3 San Augustine
Temple No. 4 Houston
St. John’s No. 5 Brazoria
Harmony No. 6 Galveston
Matagorda No. 7 Matagorda
Phoenix No. 8 Washington
DeKalb No. 9 DeKalb
Perfect Union No. 10 * San Antonio
Milam No. 11 Independence
Austin No. 12 Austin
Constantine No. 13 Bonham
Trinity No. 14 Livingston
Santa Fe No. 15 * Santa Fe (N.M.)
Friendship No. 16 Clarksville
Orphan’s Friend No. 17 Anderson
Washington No. 18 Washington
Forrest No. 19 Huntsville
Graham No. 20 Brenham
Trinity No. 21. Crockett
Marshall No. 22 Marshall
Clinton No. 23 Henderson
Red Land No. 24 San Augustine
Montgomery No. 25 Montgomery
* Never chartered
The convention elected Anson Jones the first Grand Master of Masons in Texas. It should be noted that Anson Jones was the fourth and final President of the Republic of Texas, prior to becoming a state.
There are now over 122,000 Masons in Texas with a total of 914 lodges. How we have grown in those 171 years! We look forward optimistically to the future of Masonry in Texas and trust that its proud heritage will be built upon in the years to come in ways that will continue to serve and honor the great State of Texas of which we are a part.
Source: Grand Lodge of Texas