The Texas Masonic Oak: The Birth of Texas Masonry

The land called Texas was a land where survival was the most important thing in a settler’s day to day life. There wasn’t any such thing as churches, schools and lodges, or homes and unless they brought a woman with them, there weren’t any of them here either. They had to build shacks or dugouts of one kind or another until they could find the time and means to build something more substantial while they were trying to scrach a living from the land while they defended it against the indian and outlaw raiders.

But some of the men brought something very important with them. In the winter of 1834-5, five Master Masons, who had made themselves known to each other near Brazoria by March of 1835, decided that it was time to have a Masonic Lodge in Texas.   On March 10, 1835 these 5 men, Brothers John A. Wharton, Asa Brigham, James A. E. Phelps, Alexander Russell, Anson Jones and by then Brother J. P. Caldwell had joined them, met in a secluded grove near Brazoria. The area was secluded, and out of the way of cowans and eavesdroppers, and they felt they were alone. They held the meeting sitting in the shade of a majestic oak tree. Every since then it has been known as the Masonic Oak. They decided to petition the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a dispensation to form a new Lodge to be called Holland Lodge. 

They had ignored the risk of possible damage to themselves by the Mexican government for petitioning a Lodge in the United States. The Texans were watched closely at that time, with jealously and distrust by the Mexican government. In the 1820s a group of Masons, including Stephen F. Austin had attempted to organize a Masonic lodge. In 1828 they met at San Felipe and petitioned the Grand York Lodge of Mexico for a charter dispensation. The petition evidently reached Mexico at the height of a quarrel between two factions of the Lodge and it disappeared.

On December 27, 1835, the dispensation from Louisiana was granted and the first meeting of Holland Lodge No. 36, now Holland Lodge No. 1, was conducted. A charter was eventually given to Brother Anson Jones just before the battle at San Jacinto, and he carried it in his saddlebags until after the battle.

Brother Anson Jones was elected the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas when the Grand Lodge was formed.