The Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas was established at a convention of Masons held in the Senate chamber at Houston, Harris County, Texas on 20 December 1837, and a Constitution was adopted for its government. On Motion, Statesman Sam Houston was called to the chair to preside and Anson Jones was appointed Secretary. Brother Sam Houston became President of the Republic in December 1841, and Brother Anson Jones followed him in that office in 1844. At this meeting several items of business were resolved, one of which was the election of Brother Anson Jones as Grand Master.
The Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas and other subordinate lodges were granted a legal corporate status by an “act of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled” on 30 January 1845. Due to the change from a “Texas Republic” to a “State of Texas” on 29 December 1845, and subsequent changes in our laws by the legislature, the Grand Lodge was reincorporated on 23 April 1846; again on 19 March 1879; and on 5 December 1900. The Grand Lodge constitution and the Corporate charter granted by the State of Texas set forth rules and regulation for the establishment and operation of Masonic Lodges in Texas.
By the year 1873, a small rural agrarian community had been established near the banks of duck Creek, located about fifteen miles northeast of Dallas. These pioneers had migrated from several of the United States and included farmers, mill operators, businessmen, lawyers, schoolteachers, and ministers. Most all of them were affected in some way by the bloody Civil War that had ended seven years earlier and were no doubt trying to sooth their wounds and build for a better life. The first school had been built in 1846, and was in operation. People of the Methodist persuasion built the first church in the area in 1871. the Antioch Baptists built in 1872 and the Christian Church followed in 1875.
R. D. Jones who had arrived in Texas in 1858, built the first cotton gin in the area. His son, H.K. Jones, was one of the signers of a petition for a new Masonic lodge. One year later, in 1869, Colonel Thomas Jefferson Nash, also a signer of the lodge petition, built a second gin.
Many of the community leaders in these endeavors were Master Masons who held membership in lodges far removed from duck Creek. They were proud of their Masonic affiliation and rather than having to travel several miles to attend a meeting they recognized the need to form a lodge in their community.
A petition to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas dated 17 May 1873,, was signed by the following twelve Master Masons, Peter Handley, Thomas J. Nash, J. T. Jones, H. K. Jones, T. F. Nash, James W. Spillman, Horatio Leonard, N.A. Keen, J. A. Jones, James Phares, Sam Bird and Thomas Moore. They set forth the desires of the group to “form a new lodge on Duck Creek, about 14 miles North, 45’ East from the City of Dallas in Dallas County Texas, to be named Duck Creek Lodge”. The petition further stated “and we have nominated and do recommend W.A. Riggs to be the first Master, Brother J. T. Jones to be the first Senior Warden and Brother Horatio Leonard to be the first Junior Warden of the said lodge”. In accordance with Masonic law, the petition was presented to Scyene Lodge #295, which was located approximately twelve miles south of the duck Creek community and twelve miles east of the City of Dallas. The petition was duly considered at a stated meeting of Scyene Lodge #295 on 17 May 1873, being the same date reflected on the petition. The three brethren nominated for the three principal offices were “duly examined in open lodge and were found to be fully competent to confer the degree of Symbolic Masonry in due and ancient form” and “it was therefore on motion-duly seconded-unanimously recommended that the prayer of petitioners be granted”. The lodge secretary, J.J. Beeman, certified the above actions in a document dated 19 May 1873. The petition and certification was forwarded to the Grand Lodge of Texas. Grand Master James F. Miller granted a dispensation, dated 9 June 1873, empowering and authorizing the petitioning brethren to form Duck Creek Lodge U. D.
Reflecting on the modes of travel and communications of that day, it is amazing so much could be accomplished between 17 May and 9 June 1873. Nonetheless, these movers and shakers were well on their way toward accomplishing their desires to form a lodge. On 19 September 1873, a meeting was called and Duck Creed Lodge U. D. was instituted and set to work under dispensation by Right Worshipful T. R. Bonner, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. The next meeting was held on 4 October 1873, at which two petitions for initiation were received which shows the lodge was active and was needed in the Duck Creek community.
Our records do not reflect just what the first lodge building looked like nor how they obtained it, but they did share it with “THE GOOD TEMPLARS’ and ‘PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY’ until it was destroyed by a windstorm on 15 August 1874. After the windstorm destroyed their hall, they asked the Grand Lodge to continue their status of dispensation and it was granted on ______. Upon recommendation of ______, Grand Master, issued a charter dated ______ in the name of Duck Creek Lodge #441. The first officers of the chartered lodge were _____ Hunter, Worshipful Master, ______, Senior Warden, and _____, Junior Warden. They were installed on ______.
Within a week following the devastating windstorm of August 1872, the brethren held a meeting in the school house to discuss the disposition of the wrecked hall and agreed to build a new structure 22 feet x 34 feet x 16 feet high. However, a month later a committee met with the M.E. Church and the “Grange” to discuss the matter again, yet two months later agreed to build a hall on W. F. McCullough’s land. This did not resolve the problem, for at a meeting the next month a “committee was appointed to buy a site at or near Duck Creek”. Further problems not mentioned must have changed this, because two weeks later “a proposition was submitted by the Christian Church for the lodge to build one-half of an upper story of a building about 32 feet x 48 feet and the Grange would build and occupy the other one-half”. It appears that none of the above mentioned building plans were carried out because on 18 December 1875, the building committee was ordered to meet with the Patrons of Husbandry in regard to building a hall “co-jointly”. On 1 April 1876, the Lodge drafted a resolution “expressive of gratitude of the Lodge to M. Wallace and Lady for donation of land on which our Lodge is located”. During these 20 hectic months while they had no hall, they met in the school house, church, and in the home of several of the brethren. Degree work was conferred in the second story of some of the member’s homes. From April 1876, forward to this very day, our Lodge has owned and met in its own hall, although they did rent part of the building to the Grange until they moved into the brick building on the downtown square in 1898.
In August of 1883, a program was started for a Masonic cemetery. By November, one acre of land had been purchased from _____ on Miller Road, 100 yards west of Duck Creek. In 1885, the price of the lots were set at $10 for a full lot, $5.00 for one-half lot and $2.50 for one-fourth lot. One half of the cemetery was set aside for the exclusive use of Masons and their families.
By December of 1883, the building problem again arose and they decided “to sell the hall to the school for $100 payable in one year’s time, holding it for our exclusive use till then unless we build sooner”. In January of 1884, the Lodge “decided to build a 28 feet x 50 feet x 18 feet hall and act in conjunction with Grange Committee and use all possible dispatch”. In August of 1884, a committee was appointed to move the lodge furniture so they were then in their third home, all of which were located in the Duck Creek community.
We know from the history of the City of Garland, that two small communities had sprung up in this area, duck Creek being one of them, located on the banks of Duck Creek and Embree being the other and located some one mile north and east. Heated rivalries existed between these two small villages. By the time the people of the communities settled their differences and agreed to center their town in the area of Embree, our Lodge was ready to move their hall physically from the south side of Duck Creek to the new city, later to be called Garland. We read in the minutes of the lodge that while the building was being moved that it remained overnight on cribbing in the middle of Duck Creek and that a lodge meeting was held in the hall that night. The hall moved to a site on Lot 1, Block 6 of the Town of Embree, at a cost of $75.00, $25.00 of which was paid for right-of-way during the moving. The lot for the new location also cost $75.00. This move was made in the spring of 1889. Today this location can be identified as the southwest corner of Main Street and Glenbrook in Garland.
From time to time, members were ordered to furnish aprons and candles. Quite often, visiting brethren came from Dallas to teach and assist in the conferral of the degrees. In 1894, a committee was appointed “to take charge of the ‘magic lantern’ and keep it in order”. At this writing, Garland Lodge still has this magic lantern, a slide projector, and most of the hand-painted glass lecture slides furnished with it.
Our records reflect that our lodge grounds were the center of activity for the community. On 4 July 1884, and on subsequent occasions, the grounds were made available to the Garland Democratic Club for a picnic. It is not unusual that the Lodge ordered that “the Lodge committee and Grange committee would have full control”. The picnic netted the Lodge $106.00.
By 1897, the hall was in a bad state of repair, membership was growing and more room was needed, so a committee was again appointed, this time to construct a new brick building. On 30 April 1898, this committee reported that they had constructed a building at the northwest corner of Lot ___, Block H for a cost of $2,943.16. This building was constructed in cooperation with the Order of Odd Fellows, the Masons owning the upper and lower stories of the north side and the Odd Fellows owning the upper and lower stories of the south side. Our Lodge still owns this structure. By the year 1950, this building was being used by the Royal Arch Chapter of Masons, the Order of Eastern Star, the Order of Rainbow girls, the DeMolay and the Scottish Rite Association. The facility was not ample to provide meeting dates required for these groups so a building and finance committee was appointed and ordered to proceed with plans for a new building. A sound plan was formulated and in April of 1960, the Lodge moved to its new home at 125 East State Street. This 10,000 square foot building features two Lodge rooms, a banquet room and supporting offices. This $125,000 investment was financed by selling interest bearing debentures to its members. By wise management of the Lodge, business by the officers and members, the indebtedness was retired in ten years as planned.
It is to the wisdom of our early brethren that we owe so much credit for our new home at 125 East State Street because 50 percent of the cost was defrayed by rental income from the facility for which they built and handed down to us.
In November of 1903, the name of the Lodge was changed from Duck Creek to Garland Lodge #441. Since the issuance of the dispensation in 1873, our Lodge has been served by 64 Masters. Some of these Masons have served six years, others four, some three and many two. Our records reflect a steady growth in membership. In 1873, twelve Masons set the Lodge to work. In 1883, the membership had grown to 53, in 1893 to 71, in 1903 to 84, in 1913 to 98, in 1923 to 149, in 1933 to 187, in 1943 to 198, in 1953 to 487, in 1963 to 1,011, and in 1968 to 1,208. Our records reflect that we have raised 1,447 Master Masons, as of 1968, during 95 years of labor. As a result of this tremendous increase in membership, the workload of conferring degrees and conducting the business of the Lodge, the officers were required to be at the hall four and five nights each week. A need to organize a second Lodge was recognized in order to involve more members and to distribute the workload among more men. The Master of Garland Lodge called a meeting for the expression of views of its members as to the formulation of another Lodge. The feeling was unanimous in favor of giving full support in every way possible in this endeavor. In less than six month, organization was complete and the Grand Lodge had issued a dispensation for the new Lodge to labor under the name of Duck Creek #1419. Some Garland Lodge members demitted and joined the new Lodge while others asked for and received dual membership in both Lodges. The remainder of the 188 charter members represented Lodges in 44 cities, 24 states, and 2 foreign countries. It is felt that those who have gone this way before us have left a heritage which has motivated each succeeding generation to plan, build, and provide a groundwork for the next generation.
Garland Lodge is quite fortunate to have minute books, registers, treasurer journals, communications, and documents dating back to 1873, from which a good historian will be able to develop and record our history in detail. When our building at 125 East State Street was on the drawing board in 1958, one of the first directives given the architect by the building committee, was to design a fireproof vault large enough to receive our safe and filing cabinets. This was accomplished and as long as we properly store our documents in our vault, there is no reason for us to ever lose them.
In the decades of the sixties, we experienced phenomenal growth in membership. All of the officers who served during this period were men of outstanding dedication and leadership. Just imagine the Masonic man-hours it takes to initiate, pass, and raise 80 Masons in one year. In 1965-66 we raised 80, in 1962-63 we raised 78, and in 1959-60 we raised 66 Masons. It may well be that these figures will never again be equaled or even approached.
The most important and most memorable Masonic meeting any one Mason may recall should be the meetings in which he was initiated, passed, and raised. But viewed by the membership as a group, meetings for various purposes are quite important and memorable. For many years, our Grand Masters have scheduled an official visit to the 14th Masonic District. It has been the custom to permit the home Lodge of the President of the Masters, Wardens and Secretaries Association to host the Grand Master’s visit. Garland Lodge rated this honor in 1964 and 1984.
For many years, Garland Lodge has had a Long Range Planning committee. Many worthwhile projects and events have been recommended by this committee. In 1970, this Committee recommended that the Lodge start preparation for our centennial celebration to be held in 1973. A Centennial Celebration Committee was appointed. This committee recommended that the Lodge start setting aside monies to cover expenses. In 1972, $3,000.00 was placed in a special account for this purpose. In 1973, an additional $3,000.00 was deposited and in 1974, $4,000.00 was deposited for a total amount of $10,000.00. The Committee designed a coin to be struck to mark the occasion. We purchased the dies and 2,000 coins. One half of these coins were of brass finish and the other half were of copper-tone finish. We also purchased 50 coins of 99.9% pure silver content. Most of the silver coins were purchased by members, others were presented as special gifts and we have on hand only one of these coins for posterity.
On the face of these coins is engraved an exact likeness of our three lodge building homes, the one at 125 E. State Street, the one at 615 State Street (on the square), and the one in old Duck Creek. The square and compass and the letter “G” are superimposed in the center. On the outer edge, “Garland Lodge #441, AF & AM—1875 Centennial 1975” is inscribed. On the reverse side, the inscription notes “Commemorating 100 years of Masonry in Garland Texas” and these words are flanked by two olive branches.
The official centennial meeting was held on 22 September 1973. Many past and present Grand Lodge Officers attended and participated in the program held in the High School Auditorium. Festivities began at noon. Snacks and refreshments were served throughout the afternoon followed by a catered chicken dinner in the school cafeteria at 7:00 p.m. The observance was proclaimed an outstanding success.
The Long Range Planning Committee believed that interest in the Lodge could be aided if we could provide recreational facilities for our members. Their plan was adopted and in 1986, a 2,000 square foot addition to our facility at 125 E. State Street was completed. The addition provided space for a secretarial office, a conference room, two study rooms, and a recreation room. Members are urged to use these new facilities, to play dominoes, play pool, read, watch television, study, or visit.
The final decade of this century is rapidly approaching its end. Only time can tell if this generation has been good stewards for the Spirit of Masonry. Whatever the accomplishments of the past may be, they should not be viewed as a goal to match…but rather, a base from which to build upon. Our world of tomorrow needs to live by the principles of our Masonic order. MAY GOD GRANT OUR MEMBERSHIP THE STRENGTH AND WISDOM TO EXEMPLIFY THE BEAUTIES OF FREEMASONRY.
“THOSE WHO TAKE NO PRIDE IN THE NOBLE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THEIR ANCESTORS WILL LEAVE NOTHING TO BE REMEMBERED WITH PRIDE BY THEIR DESCENDANTS”…MACAULAY…
Masonic lodges are faced with challenges and problems similar to homeowners in that they require a building in which to meet. Their facilities will require maintenance and repair, insurance coverage, the payment of taxes if the membership grows, a larger facility. The minutes of our Lodge reflect prompt response to these needs.
In our constitution, the stated purpose of the Grand Lodge and its subordinate lodges is for charitable and benevolent acts. After having closely researched the minutes of our lodge from 1873 to 1992, and being an active member and having held several offices during the past fifty-one years, this writer has come to the conclusion that ___ percent of our lodge members work included planning, financing, constructing and maintaining a lodge building. ___ percent of their time involved charitable activities, caring for the sick and burying the dead. ___ percent was spent investigating the character of applicants, initiation ceremonies, on instruction of new members, and ___ percent in refreshment and fellowship activities.
The members of old Duck Creek Lodge #441 were rather generous in their charitable endeavors, giving succor to their brethren and in burying the dead. On one occasion a cow was purchased and given to a widow. On several occasions, tuition was paid for children of a widow. Money was loaned, interest free. Financial aid was given to sister lodges throughout the state.
___ members of our Lodge have served as Mayor of the City of Garland. Many members have served on the City Council and School board. Members have served in Congress and the State Legislature. Prior to the Civil War, Brother T. J. Nash, a signer of the petition for the Lodge, served in the Kentucky Legislature, was a Dallas County Commissioner, and a member of the Texas Cessation Convention and voted for Texas to secede from the Union. Our city, county, state, nation and our armed forces have benefited from the services and leadership of members of our Lodge.