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Texas | Columns | All Things Historical

IN DUE AND ANCIENT FORM


by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

The 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 lodges.

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 in Nacogdoches sent Adolphus Sterne and other delegates, also authorized to act in behalf of Masons in San Augustine. Sam 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 in Nacogdoches No. 2, and McFarland in San Augustine No. 3.

Masonry in Texas, then, was launched in East Texas "in due and ancient form."

Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical 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 Texas)




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