Gainesville Daily Register

June 29, 2009

Era Masonic Lodge installa new officers

Staff reports

Saturday, June 27, the Era Masonic Lodge installed its 113th slate of officers for the coming year.

Freemasonry is no stranger to Texas. It came with the first settlers.

According to the Texas Grand Lodge, “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, reads the Texas Masonic Grand Lodge history, 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, according to one of Carter’s books, 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.

Early Texas Masons included: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, William B. Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, James Bonham, Ben Milam, David G. Burnet, James Fannin, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Anson Jones, Lorenzo de Zavala, Edward Burleson, Jose Navarro, Adolphus Sterne, Thomas Rusk, Robert M. Williamson, Juan N. Seguin and R. E. B. Baylor.

By 1846, according to the Grand Lodge of Texas, 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.”