Category Archives: Texas History Committee

Description of the Gonzales Battle
Charles Mason ‘s Description to Frank Johnson in Feb 1874 .

GONZALES, Feby. 4, 1874.
Col. Frank W. Johnson, Austin , Texas .

My dear old companion in arms. Your letter of the 1st ult. was duly received but the severe illness of Mrs. Mason for the past two months is my excuse for not having replied to it sooner. The data I send you is strictly to be relied on, regarding the first movement of the people of Texas, that took place at Gonzales early in the fall of 1835, (consequent upon the concentration of an army of Mexicans under the command of Gen. Martin Perfecto de Cos, who at the time had his headquarters somewhere in the northern interior) as I referred to a journal or memorandum penned not long after, when everything except particular dates was fresh in my memory. Truth required the introduction of my name in several plans, which is the excuse for apparent egotism. I reflect with pride and pleasure at having been under your command during the ever memorable five days from the 5th to the 10th of December, 1835. There is no telling what would have been the consequence of a failure: with the last round of ammunition taken from the locker; the country open to the Sabine with sparse settlements; the enerny’s success for a time at least, would seem to have been apparent. The black flag at the sand bag battery on the east side of the river the day before, and the white flag on the wall of the Alamo on the morning of the 10th were quite strange in contrast. The result was glorious. Can any one reflect without even now deciding what might have been the consequence had the advice of Tom Bell, of ‘Caney’ been taken, i. e., ‘not to regard the capitulation,’ so honorable to our arms, and so necessary in many respects to facilitate the cause for the constitution of 1824? With the hope that the enclosed may be of some service to you in your contemplated history of Texas , and whilst recurring to the past, I may be able to transmit to you further reminiscences of the glorious struggle that resulted in the birth of a nation, I am Dear Colonel, your friend and well wisher, &e, &c. CHARLES MASON. My high regards to Col. J.W.E. Wallace, of whom I often think.—M.

“In the latter part of September, 1835, a file of Mexican cavalry under command of a non-commissioned officer, arrived and encamped near the residence of Mrs. Sarah DeWitt [on the Sara Seeley tract across from inner Gonzales town] , widow of Empresario Green DeWitt, with orders from the Political Chief of the Department of Bexar, and Colonel Ugartechea, the commanding officer at San Antonio, demanding of the Alcalde, Andrew Ponton, Esq. the highest civil officer of the municipality of Gonzales, a brass six-pounder field piece of artillery, which had been turned over to Colonel Green DeWitt for the protection of his colony. The people, at once assembled and promised the alealde their warm support should he decline to give up the gun. Whereupon he addressed a note to the political chief, at San Antonio, that he could not comply with the demand, unless ordered to do so by the political chief of the department of the Brazos, which note was dispatched to San Antonio by the sergeant, simultaneous with runners—Matthew Caldwell to Bastrop and to Col. J. H. Moore’s neighborhood, lower down on the Colorado, calling on the people of those places to spread the alarm; and to send immediately as many armed men as practicable to the assistance of Gonzales & company was at once organized by electing Albert C. Martin , captain (graduate of Captain Partridge’s Military school in Connecticut) and W. W. Arrington , Charles Mason , and Jesse McCoy , Lieutenants, with about one hundred non-commissioned officers and privates, from sixty down to fifteen years of age. About the third day circumstances induced the belief that reinforcements would be sent to the Mexicans, so it was determined to endeavor to capture the squad of cavalry before assistance could reach them, and to prevent their sending information to San Antonio . Consequently, Lieutenants Arrington, Mason and McCoy, with John Martin (known better as “Bitnose” Martin) crossed the river and proceeded to their camp, near Mrs. DeWitt’s residence, and found them with their arms stacked around a tree. On a demand to surrender, they endeavoured to seize their arms, but Martin leveled his Kentucky rifle, and would, had he not been prevented, have killed the foremost. After taking possession of the arms, they were assured that no harm was intended; yet, it was with some apparent distrust they surrendered. One being sent after their horses, on reaching them mounted, as supposed the fleetest, and took the road to San Antonio at half speed, the others were taken to town and treated as prisoners of war. Knowing the soldier who had been sent for the horses would cause reinforcements to be sent, Lieutenant Jesse McCoy, Graves Fulcher , and Littleton Tomlinson , were sent as spies towards San Antonio to keep a look out and give timely information and prevent surprise. There was no disappointment. In about four days, the spies returned and reported that one hundred and eighty or two hundred cavalry (commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Arcineago) were on their march to Gonzales. At this time there were but eighteen men in Gonzales. A temporary breastwork was erected just below the ferry, and the boat secreted in a bayou above. In a short time their van appeared, hailed, and desired to be set across the river., They were informed that they could not cross. If they had dispatches, one of the men could swim over unmounted, which was done. The dispatch, on being read by one of the company, was found to contain an order on the alcalde for the cannon, and, instructions to the officer who bore it, if the cannon was not delivered voluntarily to take it by force. The answer to this was ‘come and take it.’ The contents of this reply being communicated to the officer, Lieutenant Castaneda, he denied having orders to fight. He was then informed that the alealde was out of town, and would not be in before morning, to cause further delay. The same or following day, Col. J. H. Moore, of Fayette, Edward Burleson, and Capt. R. M. Coleman, and J. W. E. Wallace, of Columbus, arrived from the Colorado with sixty or eighty men, which increased the force to about one hundred and eighty men and boys. During the delay in getting assistance from the Colorado and Brazos, our spies, Graves and Fulcher and an Indian ( Shawnee or Cherokee) kept Capt. Martin informed of every movement of the Mexicans. The Indian swimming the river at night and recrossing (and as he disappeared on the arrival of assistance, no doubt but he was employed by the Mexicans.) At this time, the Mexicans at night took position on the mound, and during the day near the timber on the river.

The number of men now required a reorganization. An election being held, J. H. Moore was chosen Colonel, J.W.E. Wallace, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Edward Burleson, Major. After several feints as though they intended to cross the river, ascertaining our number; for the purpose of greater safety, or to await reinforcements, the Me
xican commander removed his encampment seven miles up the river Guadalupe, to the Williams place. Colonels Moore, Wallace, and the officers, were very active in making preparations to attack them at that point. The field piece in dispute was hastily mounted on a pair of cart wheels procured for the occasion by Valentine Bennett , afterwards quartermaster. Slugs were forged for the gun, and lances for a company by, who labored incessantly, without the expectation of pay. Every preparation that could be made being ready at eight o’clock P. M., orders were given to cross the river, and rendezvous at the residence of Mrs. DeWitt, who with her family had removed to Gonzales at the request of the returning spies. At twelve or one o’clock the whole force were mustered to listen to a patriotic address, and a fervent appeal to the God of battles, in its behalf and for its success, by the Rev. Doctor Smith, as chaplain. The little army, full of hope and high in spirit, took up the line of march, through a dense fog, for the enemy’s camp; calculating to surprise him, but was prevented by the continued barking of a dog that had followed, causing the van. guard to be fired upon by the enemy’s picket-guard.

Orders were then given to take position in the edge of the timbered bottom and remain until daylight. After sunrise the fog was still so thick that a person could not be distinguished one hundred yards. About the time orders were given to move, the sound of a horse’s feet were heard approaching at fast speed, and a voice calling out ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!! ‘ which turned out to be a Doctor Smithers, who said he had been pressed into service to act as surgeon to the command at San Antonio, with orders to say that Lieutenant Castaneda had sent him to inform Colonel Moore that he had no orders to fight. A council was held, and it was decided that the Mexicans should surrender at discretion or fight; and Smithers dispatched to communicate the fact to his commander. The Mexican again returned Smithers to inform Colonel Moore that he desired an interview, which was agreed to. The fog having cleared away, the Mexican cavalry were seen posted in a triangle on the brow of a hill, about four hundred yards distant, with their bright arms glittering in the sun. Colonel Wallace, taking with him Lieutenant Mason, proceeded to the half way ground, where, after some moments, he discovered Lieutenant Castaneda, who was informed by Colonel Wallace that as he had refused to surrender, we would fire upon him as soon as both parties reached their respective commands; after which, a wave of the Colonel’s hand caused a match to be applied, and the Mexican officer and his command received the first shot fired in the Texas revolution for the constitution of 1824. A second round found them about-faced, making a precipitate retreat towards San Antonio . It is but just to say that among those who were engaged actively in the foregoing drama were Governor E. M. Pease, Vice President Edw. Burleson, Colonel Amasa Turner , afterwards of the regular army, Colonel J. C. Neill, who were conspicuous on the field of San Jacinto on the 20th and 21st April, 1836, and in the councils of the Republic and state of Texas, and many who at this late day cannot be remembered.

Battle of Gonzales-Index

Stephen F. Austin Mural unveiled at the Texas General Land Office

mural_0Austin, Texas March 4th, 2009

The Save Texas History project ofthe Texas GeneralLand office, headed by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, unveiled today a new mural of Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas. The General Land Office is housed in the Stephen F. Austin building at the state capitol, and the new mural is displayed in the main lobby hallway of the building.

The unveiling program, which was attended by over 100 Texans, consisted of a welcome from General Land Officer Commissioner Jerry Patterson and a brief description of how the mural was created. After an excellent program on Stephen F. Austin, Grand Master David Counts was introduced, and he spoke about the role thattheMasonic Fraternityplayed in early Texas History.

Stephen F. Austin was aMason when he came to Texas, and he was named the WorshipfulMaster ofthe first lodge in Texas. It was organized in San Felipe in 1828, and a petition for a charter was sentto Mexico City. Thepetition was never answered, and that first lodge was never fully realized. Brother Austin died soon after Texas Independence was won, and thus never saw the foothold thatMasonry obtained in the Republic of Texas.

Commissioner Jerry Patterson

pattersonThe “Masonic connection” was made when Sara Cely, the artist, was made aware of Austin’s Masonic background by Brother Jonathan Pascoe. Jonathan contacted his father Chuck, and Chuck contacted the Texas History Committee of Grand Lodge, who provided information to the artist. Part of this information included pictures of a MASONIC RIFLE that was built sometime after the Texas Revolution, but was ofthe same type used during the 1830’s. (More on this rifle, later!) The rifle is shown in the Mural, slung over

the shoulder of a rider, and the Masonic emblems are clearly visible on the stock. Square and Compasses are also shown on the buttons on the coats of both Stephen F. Austin and Erasmo Seguin, and on the butt of thepistol carried in Austin’s belt.
Press release from the General LandOffice

The Stephen F. Austin Mural
Spanish Land, Texas Home
by Sara Lee Cely (135 inches by 45 inches * Giclee from oil on canvas)

Commissioned by the Texas General Land Office Save Texas History program Jerry Patterson, Commissioner March 2009

celyArtist Sara Lee Cely

This mural honors the life of Stephen F. Austin, his importance to Texas history and his connection to the Texas General Land Office.

In the mural, Austin stands along the banks of the Brazos River, surrounded by the Old Three Hundred the colonists he helped settle in Texas. His hand rests on his Registro, or colony record book, the original of which is kept here in the Archives of the Texas General Land Office. Austins vital role in Texas cartography is represented by his position astride an 1834 version of his landmark map of Texas. First issued in March 1830 by H.S. Tanner of Philadelphia, Austins map was the first widely available map of Texas. Reissued several times during the decade, the version depicted in the mural recreates the same language and spellings used by Austin.

countsGrand Master David Counts addresses the audience with story of Austin’s Masonic background

Thoroughly researched, the mural strives for historical accuracy. Note the accurate caretta carts, period clothing and weaponry, including the Masonic symbols on Austins coat and his flintlock pistol. Tejanos, African-Americans and Native Americans are represented here in recognition of their role in the story ofAustins colony.

From the loblolly pines to the longhorn steer, the indigenous floraand fauna of early Texas are also depicted in great detail. The flow of settlers from the far distance representsthe ongoing settlement of AustinsTexas colony.


Created by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in 2004, the Texas General Land Office Save Texas History program is a highly successful initiative to conserve the historic maps and documents in the Land Office Archives while promoting the history those documents portray. First compiled after the Texas Revolution, the Texas General Land Office Archives now contains over 35 million documents dating back to 1720.



Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Artist Sara Cely, and Grand Master David Countswith the mural


Section of the mural showingErasmo Seguin (shaking hands, on the left) and some of the “Old 300” families arriving in Texas


Detail of buttons on Seguin’s coat


Detail of rider carrying Masonic Rifle. Note the symbols on the stock.


Detail of buttons on Stephen F. Austin’s coat


Detail of butt of pistol carried in Austin’s belt


Anson Jones – "First Grand Master"

Anson Jones
First Grand Master



jones.jpgRemembered by historians as the last President of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones is remembered by Texas Masons as their first Grand Master.

Jones was born on January 20, 1798, at Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He studied and practiced medicine in New York and Philadelphia until 1824, when he went to Venezuela for two years. Returning to Philadelphia, he completed his M.D. degree, joined Harmony Lodge No. 52, and soon was elected Master of the lodge. In October 1832 he moved to New Orleans. He came to Texas a year later, and set up a successful medical practice in Brazoria.

On March 1, 1835, Jones met with four other Masons at Brazoria and petitioned the Grand Master of Louisiana for a dispensation and a charter to form the first Masonic lodge in Texas. In December, when the lodge was set to labor, Jones was elected its first Master. The charter for Holland Lodge No. 36 arrived in April 1836, and Jones carried it in his saddlebags during the-Battle of San Jacinto. At the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas in December 1837, he was elected its first Grand Master. 
In 1838 President Sam Houston appointed Jones Minister to the U.S. and, a year later, he was elected to the Texas Senate. Married in 1840, he returned to his medical practice in 1841, but was appointed Secretary of State before the end of the year. Elected President of the Republic of Texas in 1844, he was recognized as the “Architect of Annexation”, and presided over the annexation ceremonies in 1846, where he declared “The Republic of Texas is no more.”

Texas became the thirty-fifth state, and Jones retired to his plantation at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he compiled his memoirs.

Despondent that history had not recognized and appreciated his contribution to Texas, Anson Jones took his own life on January 9, 1858.
* From The Texas Mason By Pete Normand, PM Texas Lodge of Research
Read More About Anson Jones

* The Texas Masons The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas by Pete Normand, © 1986 Book may be ordered from Brazos Valley Masonic Library and Museum Assn. P.O. Box 1300 College Station, TX 77841 Price: $10.00 Postpaid

Masonic Heroes

When the War Stood Still in Galveston

by Duncan Howard, PGM
Reprint From The Texas Mason, Spring 1994

The recapture of Galveston by Confederate forces is little known in the annals of war. But Masons, wherever dispersed, take a special pride and share a certain feeling when the war stood still in Galveston while Worshipful Master Philip C. Tucker, Jr. opened Harmony Lodge No. 6 and conducted the Masonic burial of a Northern Brother, “appreciating the spirit and force of Masonic ties.” It is a Masonic legacy for all Masons to cherish until time shall be no more.

By way of background, the Union Navy established a blockade of Port Galveston on October 6, 1862. Later, on Christmas Day, Federal troops landed and placed the entire island under Northern control. In the meantime, Texas gained a battle-tested hero as Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder, nicknamed “Prince John” for his dramatic flair and goldbraided pomp, was transferred to command the War Department of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona on October 10, 1862.

General Magruder, a West Pointer, had been thrice promoted in the Mexican War for “gallant and meritorious conduct” and was credited with directing and winning the first land battle in the Civil War for Southern Independence. Describing the battle, the Richmond Dispatch reported that Magruder had met a flag of truce in the conflict and granted the removal of a slain Federal officer. In parting, he had shaken hands with a Union Lieutenant and said, “We part as friends, but on the field of battle we meet as enemies.” Although politicians might differ, General Magruder had expressed the feeling of most Masons and most combat soldiers of either North or South. And, it is interesting to note that Magruder had become an Entered Apprenticed Mason in San Diego Lodge No. 35 while stationed in California after the Mexican War, but his advancement was stopped due to a duel with the Lodge Treasurer.

When General Magruder arrived in Texas, he recognized that the economy of the state was held hostage by Union blockades along the Texas coast and immediately planned a land/sea attack to retake Galveston Island. In preparation, two small steamboats -the Bayou City and the Neptune – were fitted with guns and armored with bales of cotton which Magruder said gave “an appearance of protection” to the volunteers who manned them. Then, under cover of New Year’s Eve night of 1862, the cotton-clad boats with makeshift tenders cruised to rendezvous with eight Northern ships in Galveston Harbor. At the same time a land force of Texas volunteers secretly crossed Galveston Bay on the railway bridge that still connected the island to the mainland and stationed themselves in a semicircle around Kuhn’s Wharf where Union troops were garrisoned. No doubt, the Union soldiers were startled from sleep about three o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day, 1863, when General Magruder fired the first cannon shot as a signal for the Battle of Galveston to begin. After firing the cannon, a little of “Prince John” slipped out as a jovial Magruder remarked to his closeby troops, “Now I’ve done my duty as a private and I will go now and attend my duties as a General.”

The outcome of the battle centered around the Union ship Harriet Lane, a copper-sheathed gunboat commanded by Commander Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Jr., the forty-one year old son of Protestant Episcopal Bishop Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Sr. of New York and the grandfather of Masonic General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright III of World War 11 fame.   The second in command was  Lieutenant Commander Edward Lea, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., in 1855, and a family relation of Margaret Moffette Lea Houston, wife of the Masonic General Sam Houston.

Upon entering the harbor, the Bayou City and Neptune opened fire and attempted to ram the Harriet Lane. The Harriet Lane returned fire in like kind and sank the Neptune in the shallow bay. Finally, the Bayou City managed to ram the Harriet Lane in such a way that the vessels locked together. At this time the Harriet Lane was boarded and captured during hand-to-hand combat. Following the seizure of the Harriet Lane, a flag of truce was sent to the Union Commodore Renshaw whose flagship Westfield had run aground. In truce, General Magruder demanded surrender of the entire fleet and gave three hours for consideration, After demands were met, the Northern ships were brought to anchor, flying the white flags of truce. In this interim, Commodore Renshaw was killed in an explosion that he set to scuttle his flagship Westfield and the Union gunboats, Clifton and Owasco, steamed from the harbor with their white flags still flying. Seeing they were abandoned by their fleeing fleet, the Union soldiers fighting at Kuhn’s Wharf accepted unconditional surrender. The Battle of Galveston was over and the Island remained in Southern control until the end of the Confederate Nation.

At the time the Confederates boarded the Harriet Lane both Wainwright and Lea refused to surrender and both fought valiantly to save their ship. Commander Wainwright sustained  injuries to his head and left thigh before he was killed by a shot to the head from the Mason,  Commodore Leon Smith, Commander of the Bayou City and a brother of Past Grand Master  of Indiana Caleb B. Smith who served as Secretary of the Interior in Lincoln’s first cabinet. Mortally wounded, Lieutenant Commander Edward Lea lay dying on the ship deck. When the Confederate Major Albert Miller Lea boarded the ship, he recognized his son Edward, whom he had not seen since the war began, and rushed to comfort him. As he knelt by his son, Edward, barely conscious, whispered to a shipmate, “My father is here.”  Then, he died.

Masonic prisoners from the Harriet Lane vouched to Confederate Masons that Wainwright was a Mason in good standing. Although they asked nothing for themselves, they requested a Masonic burial for their late Commander and Masonic Brother. When this information reached Philip C. Tucker, Jr., a Major on Magruder’s staff and Worshipful Master of Harmony Lodge No. 6 in Galveston, plans were made to open the Lodge for Masonic burial.

As soon as Brother Tucker reported to the Confederate headquarters located in the Roman Catholic Bishop’s palace, General Magruder accosted him with: “Major Tucker, I hear you  intend to bury the remains of Commander Wainwright tomorrow with Masonic honors. Is this true?” Major Tucker saluted and answered, “Yes, Sir. And I hope General Magruder will give it military honors.”   The reply was, “Who in H–l ever heard of burying a dead enemy with Masonic and military honors?”   The response was, “General Magruder, when Lieutenant Colonel Rogers of the Second Texas fell, the Federal authorities gave the body Masonic and military burial (unconfirmed), and it is said that you are never to be outdone in courtesy to a friend or enemy.”  The rebuttal was, “Not by a d—d sight.  Colonel DeBray (a Mason and former Secretary of Austin Lodge No. 12), turn out your regiment for escort duty tomorrow at the Masonic burial of Lieutenant Commander Wainwright of the Harriet Lane.”

On January 2, 1863, Harmony Lodge opened and resolved, “that the members of this Lodge, appreciating the spirit and force of Masonic ties, will not allow their feelings and prejudice and love of righteous cause to obliterate from their hearts and minds the merciful teachings of the Order; that it does not conflict with their duties as patriotic citizens to respond to calls of mercy by a prostrate political foe, or to administer the last rite of the Order to the remains of a Mason of moral worth, although yesterday  they met as an armed enemy in mortal combat in which the deceased parted with his life-. . . . “

The Lodge minutes continue, “Whereupon the Lodge was called upon to bury the dead. A public procession formed in which appeared both friends and foes wearing the insignia of the Order, and accompanied with a proper military escort under the command of Col. and Brother H. B. Debray, among which was the Major General Commanding J. Bankhead Magruder. The body of Bro. Wainwright was borne to its grave in the Episcopal Cemetery where it was deposited with rites of Masons and military. Lodge called from burying the dead and closed in due form.”

Although the preceding quotes do not include reference to Lieutenant Commander Lea, his body was borne to the cemetery and buried in a single grave with Commander Wainwright.  In his official report of the Battle of Galveston to President Jefferson Davis, the Entered Apprentice Mason General Magruder wrote, “Captain Wainwright and Lieutenant Lea of the Federal Navy were buried with Masonic and military honors in the same grave; Major Lea, of the Confederate Army, father of Lieutenant Lea, performing the funeral service.” In addition, the book History of DeBray’s Regiment includes the statement, “the bodies of Lieutenant Commander Wainwright, killed in action, and of Lieutenant Lea were buried in the Galveston Cemetery with military and Masonic honors, the Confederate father reading over his Federal son’s grave the solemn funeral service of the Episcopal Church. The witnesses of that heart-rending scene can never forget it.”

After graduation from West Point, Albert Miller Lea was assigned to frontier duty at Fort Des Moines on topographical duty. Later, his published notes gave the state of Iowa its name. Although the Grand Lodge of Iowa has no record of Masonic membership for Albert Miller Lea, it supplied an article of the Iowa Historical Society written by Lea just before his death. The article confirms his service in the Battle of Galveston and states, “I met in battle my oldest son, and said the Grand Service of the Church over his Captain, Wainwright, son of the late Bishop of New York, and himself, buried in one grave.”

Since Lea makes no mention of the Masonic burial of his son, perhaps it is more correct to put on record that Harmony Lodge extended the courtesy of escorting both Wainwright and Lea to the cemetery, conducted the Masonic burial of Wainwright, and attended the Episcopal Church service that committed both Federal officers to rest in a single grave. Following the war, the body of Wainwright was moved to New York and interred near his father, Bishop Wainwright, in the cemetery of Trinity Church.  No mention is discovered whether the honor of Masonic burial was conducted during this second burial.

July 9, 1994, marks the hundredth year since Philip C. Tucker, Jr. walked among Masonic Brothers. Yet, his Masonic labors live on and his achievements continue to strengthen Freemasonry in general, and in Texas, in particular.

Brother Tucker was born on February 14, 1826, in Vergennes, Vermont. There he spent his early life and was educated as an attorney by reading law in his father’s office and beginning practice under his father’s guidance.  Upon attaining the age of twenty-one, Philip was raised a Mason in Dorchester Lodge in 1847. During the next five years, he worked three years as assistant Grand Secretary, served twice as Worshipful Master of Dorchester Lodge, and was District Deputy Grand Master for three terms. In addition, he joined York Rite Freemasonry and served as Thrice Illustrious Master of his Council.

In 1852, just as he turned twenty-six years old, Brother Tucker moved to Galveston, Texas, where he established a successful law practice, became active in the Trinity Episcopal Church, was a community leader and affiliated with Harmony Lodge and the York Rite Bodies in Galveston. Later, he affiliated with Tucker Lodge No. 297 that was named in his honor. He was Worshipful Master of Harmony for six years, Commander of San Felipe Commandery for fourteen years, and served as High Priest of San Felipe Chapter.

In Grand Bodies, he became Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Texas in 1864, Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Texas in 1865, and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1869.

His continued enthusiasm for Masonry prompted Brother Tucker to accept an invitation from Grand Commander Albert Pike of the Supreme Council, 33°, of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry to become involved in introducing the Scottish Rite System of Freemasonry into Texas. On February 4-5, 1867, Brother Tucker traveled to New Orleans where the Scottish Rite degrees were communicated to him by dispensation from Grand Commander Pike. At the same time, he was commissioned as Deputy Grand Inspector General in Texas. Later, on May 17, 1867, Deputy Grand Inspector General Tucker granted Letters Temporary for the organization of San Felipe de Austin Lodge of Perfection in Galveston, Texas.

Grand Inspector General Tucker was an active and productive member of the Supreme Council in Washington, D.C., and on July 28, 1893, he was elected as Grand Commander. At the age of sixty-seven, he moved to Washington to perform the duties of Grand Commander. But, unfortunately, his tenure was suddenly terminated by death on July 9, 1894. His body was returned home to Galveston and buried with Masonic honors not far from the grave in which he placed Lieutenant Commanders Wainwright and Lea and where Lieutenant Lea still rests.

Brother Tucker was essential to the fulfillment of the Masonic legacy when the war stood still in Galveston. Apparently, under his leadership in the years of the Civil War for Southern Independence, Harmony Lodge is the only Lodge, North or South, to conduct the Masonic burial service for a Mason killed in mortal combat as an enemy.

What pride and respect we hold for the masons of yesteryear who held Masonry firm and stable, “appreciating the spirit and force of Masonic ties,” while states separated, churches divided and families split over political differences.

As word of the planned Masonic burial spread over town, most citizens and some Masons denounced it as “Treason to the Confederacy.” And certainly, discussion of Tucker’s birth up North added fuel to the beginning fire which was quickly quenched when Magruder added  support to Tucker and the Lodge by taking military honors to the burial service. No one could accuse General Magruder with “Treason to the Confederacy” and, suddenly, the Masonic burial with military honors seemed the thing to do.

General Magruder had a sad life following the war. Instead of surrendering
, he went to Mexico and served as a general in the army of Maximilian. After the defeat of Maximilian, he returned to Houston. There, almost in poverty, he died in 1871 and was buried in the cemetery lot of a friend. Later, spirited citizens of Galveston wanted Magruder buried on the Island he saved. They had his body moved to Galveston where it waited for several years in a funeral vault for enough money to be contributed for final interment.

(webmaster’s note:  Magruder is buried in the same cemetery as Edward Lea and Philip Tucker, the men he is associated with in this article.   Wainwright’s grave was moved in the 1930’s when a Wainwright descendant was serving at the Dept. of the Navy).

San Jacinto

“On the battlefield at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, the Army of Texas commanded by General Sam Houston, and accompanied by the Secretary of War, Thomas J. Rusk, attacked the larger invading army of Mexicans under General Santa Anna. The battle line from left to right was formed by Sidney Sherman’s regiment, Edward Burleson’s regiment, the artillery commanded by George W. Hockley, Henry Millard’s infantry and the calvary under Mirabeau B. Lamar. Sam Houston led the infantry charge.


“With the bsan jacinto1attle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” The Texans charged. The enemy taken by surprise rallied for a few minutes, then fled in disorder. The Texans had asked no quarter and gave none. The slaughter was appalling. Victory complete and Texas free!   On the following day General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, self-styled “Napoleon of the West,” received from a generous foe the mercy he had denied Travis at the Alamo and Fannin at Goliad.

“Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The Freedom of Texas from Mexico won at San Jacinto led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nebraska, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory changed sovereignty.
“Citizens of Texas and immigrant soldiers in the Army of Texas at San Jacinto were natives of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Austria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Scotland.”

Many Masons assumed leadership roles and were active in the birth of The Republic of Texas, such as: 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, Thomas Rusk, Juan Seguin and many more.


Two Days Before The Battle

“This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna.  It is the only chance of saving Texas.  From time to time I have looked for reinforcements in vain:  We will only have about 700 men to march with besides the camp guard.  We go to conquer.  It is wisdom growing out of necessity to meet the enemy.  Now every consideration enforces it.  The troops are in fine spirits and now is the time for action.  We shall use our best efforts to fight the enemy to such advantage as will insure victory though the odds, are greatly against us.”


“I leave the result in the hands of a wise God, and rely upon his providence. My country will do justice to those who serve her.  The rights for which we fight will be secure and Texas Free!”


General Sam Houston


Another Account

Battle of San Jacinto
April 21, 1836

Sam Houston and the meager army of Texas retreated eastward following the fall of the Alamo in the spring of 1836.  The troops were becoming increasingly impatient, however, by the time they reached Buffalo Bayou, a few miles southeast of present day Houston.
On the morning of the April 19, the Texans crossed over and marched down the right bank of Buffalo Bayou to within half a mile of its confluence with the San Jacinto River.  Here, the army prepared their defenses on the edge of a grove of trees.  Their rear was protected by timber and the bayou, while before them was an open prairie.
On the following morning, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came marching across the prairie in battle array.  A volley from the Texan’s “Twin Sisters” artillery brought him to a sudden halt.  Falling back to a clump of trees a quarter of a mile distant, Santa Anna formed in line of battle.  Colonel Sidney Sherman, at the head of the Texas cavalry, charged the Mexican army, but accomplished little except to inspire the Texans with fresh enthusiasm for the following day.
The 21st of April dawned bright and beautiful.  The main forces of the Texas army were there, totaling about 750 men.  They faced over 1500 of the enemy, secure and flushed with pride at the offense they had enjoyed for the previous few weeks against the Texans.  Early in the morning, Houston sent Deaf Smith, the celebrated Texas spy, with two or three men, to destroy Vince’s bridge over which the Mexican army had passed, thus cutting off their only available escape.
When Houston’s long awaited order to advance was given, the Texans did not hesitate.  When within seventy yards the word “fire” was given, the Texan shouts of “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” rang along the entire line.  Within a short time, 700 Mexicans were slain, with another 730 taken as prisoners.  The battle for Texas was won.
A panel on the side of the monument at San Jacinto today underscores the importance of the battle after more than a century and a half of reflection: “Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world.  The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the States of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.  Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty.”
Every year in April the people of Texas, many of them Masons, gather at the foot of the San Jacinto Monument near Houston to celebrate the Texas victory at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, which established independence for Texas.  We have read much of the Texan heroes of that battle but not so much of the Mexican leader.
As the dominant force in Mexico for nearly fifty years, one would think someone, somewhere would have done something to memorialize his memory, but no statues exist of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  In Mexico, he is widely viewed as a charlatan, a despot and a traitor.
The question comes up each year about this time: Why was Santa Anna not executed after his defeat at San Jacinto?  Surely, after the atrocities at the Alamo, he deserved to die.  But, he was allowed to live, and the slave girl, Emily Morgan, who occupied his tent has been immortalized in song as “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Santa Anna attempted to sneak away during the turmoil of the battle, but his horse bogged down in Vince’s Bayou.  He found some clothing and hid out during the night.  The next day, some of the Texans who were looking for stragglers, picked him up but did not realize that he was a prize catch.   When he was grouped with other prisoners, some addressed him as “El Presidente,” and his captors took him directly to General Sam Houston.
William R. Denslow, arthur of 10,000 Famous Freemasons, writes: “It is said that Santa Anna owed his life to the giving of the Masonic sign of distress, first to James A. Sylvester; secondly to Sam Houston; and thirdly, to a group of Texas soldiers, among whom were John A. Wharton, George W. Hockley, Richard Bache, Dr. J. E. Phelps and others.
In his book, Masons In Texas, History and Influence to 1846, Dr. James D. Carter holds another view: “It may be that Masons saved the life of Santa Anna but if so, they did not act because he made claim to their mercy as Masons.  All of the Masons to whom he appealed knew that Santa Anna disowned Masonry; that further, his many offenses against Texas and Mexican Masons had placed him outside the protection of any Masonic obligation.  Santa Anna was saved because the Texas leaders considered him worth more to Texas alive than dead.”
That is probably the closest we have to the truth.  Sam Houston and others, who could have ordered a military trial and convicted their foe of an infinite number of war crimes, knew their victory was tenuous at best, and executing Santa Anna would probably give him the martyrdom he did not deserve.   And, they did not know who would replace him in the vacuum that would exist if he was executed.
Cooler heads prevailed and Santa Anna was spared, not because of any Masonic connection, but because it was the politically expedient thing to do.

The Goliad Observance

2007 Goliad fannin memorial 1

Up until the time of the Texas Revolution, Goliad was the crossroads of the earliest communities in Texas.  By the time of the fall of the Alamo in March of 1836, Goliad had already been the site for the important La Bahia Presidio, or fort, the site of an early victory by Texas, and the site where the first Texas Declaration of Independence had been signed in December of 1835.   Seven of those who signed this declaration were Masons who also had a part in designing a white flag with a bloody arm holding a sword.   They were making it clear that they would rather have an arm cut off than give in to oppression.   On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Goliad had its most famous and most tragic moment as Brother James W. Fannin along with 329 prisoners were executed by explicit orders from Santa Anna.   This massacre, along with the fall of the Alamo, enraged Texans to the point that many accused Houston of cowardice as he retreated across Texas during The Runaway Scrape.   During the battle at San Jacinto some of the Texans became so crazed they slaughtered Mexican soldiers who were trying to surrender.   Other Mexican soldiers sought mercy crying, “me no Alamo,” “me no Goliad.”   The Texans’ rage would probably have been even greater if they could have seen the bodies at Goliad as they rotted on the stacks of green wood that had failed to burn very long.   Goliad, like the Alamo, gave Texans and Americans an even greater hatred of dictators and a rekindled desire to oppose oppression at all costs.

Read about the tragic events at Goliad on the “Handbook of Texas OnLine”

Previous Observances

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Grand Master (2001) David B. Dibrell places the Masonic emblem at the Goliad Memorial

2007 Goliad fannin memorial 3

Grand Master David Dibrell and Marlene Dibrell at the Goliad Memorial

2007 Goliad fannin memorial 4

Left to right
Deputy Grand Master Michael D. Nanny,
Grand Senior Warden M. Boyd Patterson,
and Grand Master David Dibrell. (2001)

2007 Goliad fannin memorial 5

2007 Goliad fannin memorial 6

Goliad Frank Richard Brown Knox Corinthian Lodge 851

S & C

Come and Take It Celebration

2000px-Texas_Flag_Come_and_Take_It.svg Come And Take It Celebration

Commemorating the Masonic Presence
At the First Shot of the Texas Revolution

In mid September 1835, Mexican General Cos landed in Matagorda Bay and proceeded overland to Bexar.  This was the first step toward disarming the people of Texas, and to secure a four-pounder cannon which had been placed at Gonzales by the Mexican Government for the defense of the settlement against the Comanches.  His demand for the cannon was refused by the colonists and a detachment of about one hundred Mexican Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Francisco Castonando was sent to take it back.

Upon arriving near Gonzales, on September 28, 1835 a small company of eighteen Men, (six of them masons- Winslow Turner, William W Arrington, Valentine Bennet, Almeron Dickinson, G W Davis, and Charles Mason) “The Old Eighteen”, held the Mexican force at bay until reinforcements could arrive.  On October 2, 1835 a battle was fought, witch has been called the Lexington of the Texas Revolution.

The Texans Won!


The Following Masons Took Part In The Battle
Colonel John H Morre, Commanding
Lieutenant Colonel JWE Wallace, Second in command
James Neal – fired the first cannon shot of the revolution

William A Alley
Thomas J Gazley
James Kerr
William J Russel
Branch T Archer
R M Goheen
Eli Mitchell
William P Smith
Edward Burleson
Archibalb Hodge
E M Pease
Noah Smithwick
Thomas M Dennis
Patrick C Jack
Andrew Pontoon
R M Williamson
James W Fannin
Augusts Jones
Joel Robison
The following is an excerpt from a Historical Sketch of Gonzales Lodge No. 30 A F & A M
Written June 24, 1897
Compiled by B R Abernethy Grand Master 1896
It would be improper to conclude this sketch without referring to the remarkable zeal and love of Masonry uniformly displayed by the brethren of this Lodge in its early days. It was no uncommon occurrence for them to ride twenty to thirty miles, through a trackless country, filled with unseen unknown perils leaving their families without protection, save the protecting care of that God upon which all good Masons place their trust.

Dreading the stealthy approach of the merciless Indian to their homes, and the rush of a fanatical anti- Masonic mob upon the Lodge. They were armed at all points and prepared for any emergency. But through all this Masonry in Gonzales not only lived, it grew and flourished, and we today are enjoying the fruits of their heroic self-sacrifice.

Special Invitation
The annual celebration commemorating the Battle of Gonzales is held each year on a weekend  near the date of the battle, October 2nd.  We encourage each of you to contact a member of Gonzales Lodge No. 30 for the specific date for the current year and come and join in the celebration!
Contact information
Glen Sachtleben
830 437-2208
Louis Bowen
830 672-6000
Drew Hunter
830 437-5626
Stephen Henrichs
830 437-2828



2 Come and Take It   3 Come and Take It   4 Come and Take It   5 Come and Take It   6 Come and Take It

The Masonic Oak Vintage Photos


A collection of vintage photos of the Masonic Oak

  2 Masonic Oak plaque     3 Masonic Oak   4 Masonic Oak

This is from a 1913 scrapbook created by Brother J. P. Underwood (Past Master)

5 Masonic Oak 1983   6 Masonic Oak 1985   7 Masonic Oak 1985   8 Masonic Oak 2004    9 Masonic Oak 1983

10 Masonic Oak flyer compressed   11 Masonic Oak journal article compressed    13 Masonic Oak newspaper article   14 Masonic Oak painting edit

Our thanks to Michael Bailey, the Curator of the Brazoria Historical Museum for allowing us to display these photos.

The Masonic Oak



When the first colonist arrived in Texas their life was one of survival without the benefit of churches, schools and lodges, or even homes as they put together shanties of one kind or another until they could find the time and means to build something more substantial.   By March of 1835, there were six brethren in Brazoria who had decided that the time had come for making an attempt to have a lodge in Texas.   On March 10, 1835, John A. Wharton, Asa Brigham, James A. E. Phelps, Alexander Russell, Anson Jones and J. P. Caldwell met in a secluded grove near Brazoria and petitioned the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a dispensation to form a new Lodge to be called Holland Lodge.   The dispensation was granted and the first meeting of Holland Lodge No. 36 was conducted on December 27, 1835.   The charter for this new lodge was eventually delivered to Anson Jones just before the battle at San Jacinto, and the charter remained in his saddlebags through the battle.

Today, special efforts continue to be made to preserve the Brazoria Oak where the March 10th meeting took place.  Brethren from the various lodges in the area have maintained the grounds and once a year Masons from all over the state make the pilgrimage to be a part of the annual picnic to celebrate and commerate that first meeting.   All Texas Masons are encourage to attend this annual picnic.

It is said that from little acorns, mighty oaks grow.   Such was the case in about the year 1600 when an acorn fell to the ground in the vast coastal forest area near the present City of Brazoria.   It was an acorn from which to grow a tree destined to play a part in the history of Masonry in Texas.

To survive under the then virgin growth conditions, the acorn has to escape natural enemies.   It had to anchor its roots deep in the soil to secure needed food and moisture.   But, above all, the tree which was produced from this acorn had to fight, and fight hard for survival and to secure dominance among other trees.   This it did.

When the acorn fell to the ground, Columbus had discovered America only about 100 years earlier.   The area comprising Texas was then under Spanish rule since the Aztecs and the Kingdom of Tezcuso had been conquered by the Spaniards under Cortez in 1519-21.   Masonry was then struggling in England with “Ancient” and “Modern” Lodges based on class distinction, a condition which at that time did not bode well for our fraternity.

It was in 1821, under the Plan of Iquala*, that Mexico proclaimed herself as an independent monarchy.  The nation of Mexico then included what is now California, Arizona, Utah and Texas, among other areas.   By this period in history the oak tree had grown to maturity.   It was ready to play a role in Texas Masonic history.

The tree was subsequently to be known by Masons as the Charter Oak, Masonic Charter Oak, or Masonic Oak, for it was under its spreading branches that Masons met to establish the first Masonic Lodge in the Republic of Texas.


“Here on a day in March 1835 Brothers Anson Jones, John A. Wharton, Asa Brigham, J.A.E. Phelps, Alex Russell and J. P. Caldwell met and resolved to petition the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a dispensation to form a Lodge of Freemasons.   Their prayer was granted and Holland Lodge began work.   Lodges were later formed at Nacogdoches and San Augustine, and on December 20th, 1837, these three Lodges created the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas with M.W. Anson Jones as the first Grand Master of Masons in Texas.”

Every May the Masonic Oak Ceremony is held in Brazoria, Texas.   The reason is evident in the following remarks made by our first Grand Master, Anson Jones, before the Grand Lodge of Texas on June 4, 1850:

“In the winter of 1834-5, five Master Masons, who had made themselves known to each other, consulted among themselves, and after various interviews and much deliberations, resolved to take measures to establish a lodge of their Order in Texas.  This resolution was not formed without a full appreciation of its consequences to the individual concerned.  Every movement in Texas was watched, at that time, with jealously and distrust by the Mexican government.”

“The dangers . . . were neither few nor unimportant.  But zeal for a beloved institution; a belief that it would be beneficial at a period when society seemed especially to need some fraternal bonds to unite them together, predominated; all fears of personal consequences were thrown aside, and the resolution to establish a lodge was adopted.   The five brethren were John A. Wharton, Asa Brigham, James A.E. Phelps, Alexander Russell and Anson Jones, and they appointed a time and place of meeting to concert measures to carry their resolution into effect.   In the meantime another Master Mason came into their plans,  Brother J. P. Caldwell.

“The place of the meeting was back of the town of Brazoria, near the place known as General John Austin’s, in a little grove of wild peach or laurel . . . The spot was secluded, and out of the way of cowans and eaves-droppers, and they felt they were alone!   The six brethren I have mentioned were all present there; and it was concluded to apply to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a Dispensation to form and open a Lodge, to be called Holland Lodge.”

The place where they sat was shaded by a majestic oak tree, for many years now known as the Masonic Oak.  The city of Brazoria uses the Masonic Oak as its official emblem, and it can be seen on city police cars and elsewhere.

(* Plan of Iquala declared that Mexico was to be declared an independent monarchy under a Spanish Bourbon Prince, the Roman Catholic Church was to retain all its powers, Creoles and Gachupínes were to have equal rights, and there was to be no confiscation of property. Popularly, the plan was known for its three guarantees: religion (Catholic), independence, and union with the Bourbons.)