A History of Pasadena Masonic Lodge
Brethren, we ask that you bear with us as we research and develop this section of our website. We will be delving into the records of the lodge. securing old pictures, interviewing lodge members, and talking with members of the community who might be able to shed light on some of our ancient history. If you have any pictures or interesting tidbits of information that you could share , we would earnestly solicit your help. Any pictures that you might have of the old lodge, or happenings that may have occured, if you wouldn't mind letting us scan them, we would greatly appreciate it. We will scan your picture, and hand it right back to you. We will also acknowledge you in regard to the above. We will be interviewing the Past Masters as part of this process, as well as our most esteemed 50 and 60 year masons. It is our fervent dersire that you visit this page often and see the development of our Lodge history.
The History Page of the Website is dedicated to those who drew the designs upon the trestle board, and labored in the quarries that we might have the Lodge that we have today.
You might think that our Lodge history begins with the 13 Charter Members through whose desire and hard work Pasadena Lodge #1155 exists today, but actually, it began long before then. It started with a man named Moses Austin, and his desire to start a colonization effort in Texas while it was still under Spanish rule. This is where our history actually begins. Moses Austin came to Texas in 1820 and was received by the Governor of Spanish Texas, "Colonel Don Antonio Martinez". Moses asked him for permission to bring Anglos from the United States into Spanish Texas to help in colonizing the area. At first, Governor Martinez turned a deaf ear, but through the help of a gentleman known as the "Baron de Bastrop" and who was held in high regard by the Spanish Government, Moses finally received permission to colonize an area of Texas with 300 families. Moses headed back to the United States, but fell deathly ill upon his return. He did indeed begin to try and sign up families for the settlement, but became too ill to see this completed. Knowing his time was short, he called his son, Stephen, to his bedside and extracted a promise from him, to see his dream fullfilled. Stephen, came to Texas to find that Mexico had won its independence from Spain. He was now fearful that the Mexican government might not honor the grant received by his father. He again asked to be received by the now "Mexican Emprisarrio", which was granted. Luck was to be with Stephen in this effort, as he went before the same man his father had gone before in his successful attempt at receiving a grant, Don Antonio Martinez. Upon Mexico winning its independence from Spain, Don Antonio Martinez had simply disavowed himself from the now defunct Spanish Government, and sworn his allegiance to the new Mexican government. Again, Don Antonio Martinez, proved to be fearful of the "colonization effort", and again, "Baron de Bastrop" came to the rescue. Stephen's request was recognized, and granted in April of 1823. Again an attempt to bring 300 families into Texas was begun. One of the men who came to Texas to pledge his allegiance to Mexico, and settle in the "granted" colony was William Vince. He, along with 5 brothers and sisters, came to Texas in 1822. William petitioned Stephen F. Austin for a grant of land from his colony. On July 21, 1824, William was granted a "League of Land" which straddled what was to become known as Vinces Bayou. Vince built his home close to the Bayou, and built a bridge across the over the same. This bridge became known as Vinces Bridge, and it is across this bridge that both the Mexican, and Texian Armies crossed, to fight the "Battle of San Jacinto", and upon which battlefield, Texas was to win its Independence and become a Republic. Prior to this battle, Sam Houston, ordered Deaf Smith to destroy the bridge so that there could be no escape by either side. Due to the burning of this bridge, General Antonio de Lopez de Santa Anna was unable to escape and consequentially surrendered, thus securing Texas Independence. Why did I put this in the history of Pasadena Lodge No. 1155? The land that our first and present lodge buildings were built on, was land that was "granted" to William Vince by Stephen Fuller Austin and the Baron de Bastrop.
In the years leading up to 1920, Pasadena, Texas began to grow. The chief mode of travel was still by wagon, or a fast saddle horse, homes were lighted by coal oil, and the principle attraction of Pasadena was that it had a passenger train. Masons who lived in the Pasadena area, belonged to Lodges in Houston, or LaPorte. As Pasadena continued to grow, Masons of this community bacame desirous of organizing a Masonic Lodge in Pasadena proper. A group of nineteen Masons had enough vision and faith in Masonry to begin holding preliminary meetings in the homes of who would become our Charter members, to organize Pasadena Lodge No. 1155. Undoubtedly, there was many a wife who was asked to go visit a friend while these meetings were taking place. Our Charter Members efforts met with success, and on December 9, 1921, Pasadena Lodge No. 1155 A.F. and A.M. was granted a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A. M. The first meetings are understood to have been held in LaPorte Lodge No. 857. The first permanent lodge room was located on the second floor of a building located on South Main Street, just south of the present Pasadena Freeway. The second lodge building was built on Main Street, just north of Pasadena Freeway. We were blessed with growth and were soon outgrowing this Lodge building. The brethren, seeing that we needed yet more room, then voted to build our present Lodge building which was completed in 1952 and is located at 1030 South Main. This building was the third "ground" floor lodge "authorized" in Texas.
According to Bevis Frazier's notes in, "Pasadena Masonic Lodge No. 1155 Summary of Fifty Yeasts in Retrospect 1921 - 1971", he states that, "many of the older records were destroyed by rodents". The ealiest records available to us, are from January of 1922. From these earliest of minutes, we find the first Corps of Officers were: Worshipful Master--Richmond Brannon, Senior Warden--A.R. Cruse, Junior Warden--W.F. Williams, Treasurer--R.E. Parks, Secretary--D.E. Atkinson, Senior Deacon--Walter Ankele, Junior Deacon--W. G. Hargrove, Senior Steward--J.M. Boyd, Junior Steward--L.G. Tabor, Tiler--O.C. Pitts. All of these officers were "Charter" members of Pasadena Lodge.
During the formative years of the 1920's, and 1930's, there are many things that strike our attention. I thought I would enter a few to bring a little "drama" and enlightenment to these readings. Things that we take for granted---well---they just weren't quite the same back then. 1) During these formative years, attendance, was equal to, or double, the membership. (Wouldn't you love to see it that way now.) 2) On May 22, 1922, Brother C.H. Tilly presented a "bill" for coal oil, for the lamps in the lodge building. A motion was made to have electric lights installed in the Lodge room. The motion passed, and lights, and fans, were installed by Carr Electric, for a grand total of $127.50. The first light bill noted in the minutes after this installation took place, was for $2.00. 3) On October 11, 1926 at a stated meeting, a special assessment was placed on all members to pay off the indebtedness of the lodge property. The notes that were issued for this special assessment paid 8% interest. The vote of the membership was 49 - 1 in favor of the special assessment. The debt was paid in full on April 11, 1927. 4) During the late twenties, money was hard to come by. A hundred and fifty dollar bank account gave the Treasurer just cause to be proud. 5) Our present Herring-Hall safe was purchased second hand on August 23, 1927, for $20.00, from the Schmitz-Brannon Safe Company in Houston. 6) Our first typewriter was purchased in 1929, and has proved over the years to be a valuable purchase. Bevis Frazier's notes state, "that this typewriter was used until 1946". I wonder if our Brother George Franklin Herring, pulled this typewriter out of retirement when he was Treasurer in the 1980's. I can attest that the one he used was "ancient". The early minutes of the Lodge that were handwritten in ink, have faded, and are almost impossible to read. 7) Before the start of the depression in 1929, lodge dues were $18.00 per year. With the onset of the depression, money was scarce and the Lodge dues were lowered to $12.00 a year. As the depression worsened, Lodge dues were lowered to $6.00, due to the number of members going suspended for "non payment of dues". 8) To help raise money in the depression, the bylaws were amended, to allow the members to buy a "Life" membership for $120.00.
Let's now look into the archives of the 1930's for some other interesting bits of trivia: 1) Going into the 1930's, membership continued to grow, but membership did not exceed 100 until 1938. 2) In 1930, a delegation was sent to the Grand Lodge meeting with all expenses paid, which amounted to $20.00. 3) In 1930, one of the members loaned the Lodge $50.00 to help meet a bank note of $535.00. 4) In the minutes of August 25, 1930, we find that the membership voted to rent a "portion" of the ground floor to Dr. O.F. Portwood for the sum of $20.00 per month, provided the Lodge would remodel the same at an expense not to exceed $252.00. (I wonder why that specific amount???) Dr. Portwood was to install his on light meter, and pay half of the gas bill. Brother Portwood was the Grandfather of our Past Master, Robert Portwood. Brother Portwood's father, O.F Portwood Jr. was initiated into Masonry on October 1, 1935. 4) In the early thirties, the Lodge was used for the purpose of holding elections. The City of Pasadena paid the Lodge $5.00 for the use of the ground floor of the Lodge. 5) State and County taxes for 1935 were $16.07. (Wouldn't you love to see it that way now!) 6) On January 26, 1931, Past Master Richmond Brannon, made the request that he desired the return of his Family Bible. Brother Brannon's Bible had lain on the alter of the Lodge, since it was Chartered. Brother Brannon's request was granted, and a letter of thanks was written to Brother Brannon. 7) The Order of the Eastern Star was granted permission to use the Lodge room for the purpose of Installation of Officers on May 25, 1931. This is the first mention of Pasadena Chaper No. 711 Order of the Eastern Star, in the minutes of the Lodge. In May of 1933, a note of thanks was sent to the officers and members of Pasadena Lodge, from Francis Parks, Worth Matron of Pasadena Chapter No. 711, in which she expressed her appreciation for the cooperation and encouragement extended to the Chapter by Pasadena Lodge, stating that, "Whatever worthwhile things had been accomplished by the Chapter, it was in large measure due to the Lodges good will and support". On August 4, 1933, the Lodge voted to accept $5.00 per month from the Eastern Star Chapter for the use of the Lodge room. 8) In 1931-1932, when Brother J.D. Parks was Master of the Lodge, the then Senior Warden, Brother Delbert Atkinson, made the recommendation that all Past Masters pictures be hung in the Lodge room. Brothers Earl Guin, and T.A. Magee, were appointed to get the pictures of all Past Masters hung in the Lodge proper, which has proven to have preserved much of the Lodges history, and brings back many pleasant memories to us all. During our eighty nine year history, there have been only three Past Masters who have repeated as Master of the Lodge., they being Brothers Richmond Brannon, Gary Lilley, and J.W. Hamilton. 9) Charity has always been an integral part of Pasadena Lodge and its members. On December 23, 1929, the Lodge learned of a family in Genoa, that was in a destitute condition, and contributed groceries for their releif. On December 17, 1934, Pasadena Lodge collected monies from its membership, to contribute to the relief of seven familes in Pasadena, and ten in Galena Park (there being no Masonic Lodge in Galena Park at that time.) This practice continues into the present day, and gives us a history of which we can be most proud. 10) On July 5, 1935, Master of the Lodge, E.W. Blakesley (Uncle of our Past Master, brother Robert Portwood) informed the brethren that this meeting was a "summons" meeting, according to the will of the Most Worshipful Grand Master. After stating the purpose of the meeting, the Worshipful Master read from the Grand Lodge Bulletin, and at 08:30 pm, the "radio" was tuned in, and the Brethren listened to the broadcast of the Most Worshipful Grand Master.
As the thirties ended, and the forties began, Lodge membership continued to grow. It was not unusual for the Lodge to confer as many as five degrees on a meeting night. After World War II started, the Pasadena Masonic Building Association bought defense bonds to help in the war effort. At a stated meeting on June 22, 1942, the Lodge members voted to remit the dues of all Master Masons belonging to Pasadena Lodge who were serving in the armed forces. This was done throughout the was
As has been stated earlier, our membership continued to grow to the point that it was evident a new Lodge building was needed. Through the efforts of the Masonic Building Association, plans were made, our present Lodge property was purchased, the Lodge and parking lot were constructed, and completed in 1952. We owe a debt of gratitued to the efforts of our Past Membership for their foresight, and tenacity in seeing this all brought to fruition. We also owe the same debt of gratitude to those who have added on to the building, and to all those who contributed to its upkeep throughout the years. The furniture in the Lodge room today, was donated by the family of deceased Brother, Meyer Blankfield, which was given in his memory. Brother Blankfield was one of the early merchants in Pasadena, Texas. One of Brohter Blankfield's sons was a member of Pasadena Lodge, and became one of our esteemed 50 year Masons, before his death.
Charter Members of Pasadena Masonic Lodge #1155 A. F. & A.M.
(Listed as they appear on the application for the Charter)
Ankele, W.G. High, J. F.
Atkinson, D.E. Meyers, D. B.
Barlow, H.C. Parks, R. E.
Boyd, J.M. Pitts, O. C.
Brannon, R. Scoggins, T. D.
Brown, J.M. Tabor, L. G.
Cruse, A.R. Watson, G. A.
Freeman, A. B. Williams, C. A.
Guinn, R. Williams, W.F.
Hargrave, W. G.
Original Pasadena 1155 Lodge
The first permanent lodge room was located on the second floor of a building located on South Main Street, just south of the present Pasadena Freeway
Constructin Of New Lodge
The brethren, seeing that we needed yet more room, then voted to build our present Lodge building which was completed in 1952 and is located at 1030 South Main. This building was the third "ground" floor lodge "authorized" in Texas.