origin of Freemasonry is traced from the building of King Solomon's
temple, and you can read all about it in the Old Testament of the
Bible. That is "operative" Masonry, or brothers who literally
earned their bread in the building trades.
"Speculative" Masonry, which hopes to build better lives of
men engaged in various occupations, began in the British Isles in
the seventeenth century, then crossed the Atlantic to America as York
Rite Masonry, and to Spanish colonies as Scottish Rite Masonry. The
two forms of Masonry, which have the first three degrees of Masonic
work in common, eventually met in Texas.
Masons were among the earliest Anglos to arrive in Texas,
including those who came illicitly prior to legal immigration. When
bonafied settlers arrived, Masons among them naturally wanted to establish
The first authorization to organize lodges came from John Henry Holland,
grand master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, of York Rite orientation.
Holland sent the first charter as the result of a request of Masons
led by Anson
Jones, and their group was to be known as Holland Lodge No. 36.
The courier bearing the charter arrived in time to participate in
the Battle of San Jacinto
in April 1836, but when he finally delivered it the action had moved
to the new city of Houston,
located on Buffalo Bayou, so that is where Holland lodge was established.
Meanwhile, Holland also sent charters for Milam Lodge No. 40 in Nacogdoches,
named in honor of Ben Milam,
who had fallen in the Texas Revolutionary Battle of San Antonio, and
McFarland Lodge No. 41 in San
Augustine. Both began operating in mid-1837.
Then, in December 1837, members of Holland Lodge hosted a meeting
in Houston with a plan to establish a Grand Lodge of Texas. The lodge
sent Adolphus Sterne and other delegates, also authorized to act in
behalf of Masons in San
Houston, president of the Republic of Texas, presided at the organizational
meeting, and delegates selected Anson
Jones as Grand Master and Sterne as Deputy Grand Master. In the
registry of the new Grand Lodge, Holland Lodge became No. 1, Milam
No. 2, and McFarland in San
Augustine No. 3.
Masonry in Texas, then, was launched in East
Texas "in due and ancient form."
| © Archie
February 27, 2006 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald
is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on
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