Groesbeck Masonic Lodge #354

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Masonry in Texas

Early Masonry in Texas

On 11 February 1828, Stephen F. Austin called a meeting of Masons at San Felipe de Austin for the purpose of petitioning the York Grand Lodge of Mexico for 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 Freemasonry on 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."

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. Holland of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana asking for a dispensation to form a lodge in Texas. Foremost among these five Masons was Anson Jones who would later serve as Grand Master, and as President of the Republic of Texas.

That charter, creating Holland Lodge No. 1, was issued and signed on 27 January 1835. It was given to a Mr. John M. Allen, originally of Louisiana Lodge No. 32 to carry to Texas. Allen had been recruiting volunteers for the Texas Army in New Orleans, and would not reach Texas until just before the Battle of San Jacinto on 21 April 1836.

Houston Masonic Temple 1870

Houston Masonic Temple 1870


Freemasons and the Texas Revolution

Meanwhile, Texas was in the midst of war. The first shots of the Texas Revolution had been fired in October 1835 at Gonzales. Delegates had gathered at the small town of Washington-on-the-Brazos and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on 2 March 1836. The Mexican Army under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Annahad crossed the Rio Grande and 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 BonhamJames BowieDavid CrockettAlmaron Dickenson, and William Barrett Travis.

There has existed for many years the story or myth that General Santa Anna, captured on 21 April 1836 after 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, further his many offenses against Mexican and Texan Freemasons placed him outside the protection of any Masonic obligations, 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."


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. 1 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 Houston consisting 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. RuskI. W. BurtonCharles S. TaylorAdolphus Sterne, and K. H. Douglas; and from McFarland Lodge: G. H. Winchell was 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.

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,"  and, according to Texas historian James D. Carter, "the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was ended," making 16 April 1838 the birthdate of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas.[10] 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.[11] As a result, this latter date, 11 May 1838, is the birthdate of the Grand Lodge given in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia.


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:


Final Charter Date


Holland No. 1[14]

2 Dec. 1835


Milam No. 2

2 Dec. 1838


McFarland No. 3[n1]

18 Nov. 1838

San Augustine

Temple No. 4 [n2][15]

10 May 1838


St. John's No. 5[16]

18 Nov. 1838

West Columbia

Harmony No. 6

30 Jan. 1840


Matagorda No. 7[17]

18 Nov. 1838


Phoenix No. 8[n1]

18 Nov. 1838


DeKalb No. 9

2 Feb. 1840

De Kalb

Perfect Union No. 10[n4]

2 Jan. 1920

San Antonio

Milam No. 11[n1]

31 Jan. 1840


Austin No. 12

7 Nov. 1839


Constantine No. 13[18]

10 Mar. 1840


Trinity No. 14[19]

2 Nov. 1840


Santa Fe No. 15[n1]

never organized

Santa Fe

Friendship No. 16

11 Dec. 1841


Orphans Friend No. 17[20]

30 Jun. 1842


Washington No. 18[n2]

11 Jan. 1844


Forrest No. 19[21]

12 Jan. 1844


Graham No. 20

13 Jan. 1845


Lothrop No. 21

18 Jan. 1845


Marshall No. 22

18 Jan. 1845


Clinton No. 23[22]

16 Jan. 1845


Redland No. 24[n3]

16 Jan. 1845

San Augustine

Montgomery No. 25

15 Jan. 1846


Olive Branch No. 26[n6]

19 Feb. 1846


Paris No. 27

24 Jun. 1846


Frontier No. 28[n5]

29 November 1845

Corpus Christi

^[n1] - Demised.

^[n2] - Demised, but charter restored at or near original location.

^[n3] - Now working as Redland Lodge No. 3.

^[n4] - U.D. but Never Working but later granted a charter on January 2, 1920 at or near original location.

^[n5] - Demised 1847, but Charter Restored 2 August 2006 at West Columbia, TX

^[n6] - Demised, but charter restored December 2005 near Sealy, TX


Famous Texas Freemasons


  • Stephen F. Austin - Father of Texas - Louisiana Lodge No. 109, Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

  • Sam Houston - Hero of San Jacinto - Holland Lodge No. 1, Houston, Tx. Cumberland Lodge No. 8, Nashville, Tn.

  • William Barret 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 - Commander at Goliad - Holland Lodge No. 36, Brazoria, Tx.

  • Anson Jones - Last President of the Republic of Texas - Holland Lodge No. 1, Houston, Tx. 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, Tx.

  • Lawrence S. "Sul" Ross - Texas Ranger, Confederate General, Governor of Texas, President of Texas A&M - Waco Lodge No. 92, Waco.

  • John J. Kennedy - "Sheriff, leader of law and order faction of the Regulator-Moderator War, Confederate Captain" - Marshall Lodge No. 22, Marshall, Tx.

  • 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 Flight Helicopter System, the first air ambulance service in Texas. Hillsboro Lodge No. 196, Hillsboro, Tx.