Salado Masonic Lodge #296 will celebrate its 150th Anniversary with a special dinner at the historic Stagecoach Inn on Salado’s South Main St.
Gerry N, Kirby, Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, will come to Salado for the June 12 dinner at Stagecoach Inn, to present the Lodge with a proclamation honoring the Lodge on its Sesquicentennial.
The dinner will be open to the public, but reservations will be necessary by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Lodge Secretary Tim Fleischer at 254-458-2643.
The Masons of Texas have an historic connection to the Stagecoach Inn from its earliest days. Brother Sam Houston gave an anti-secession speech from the balcony of the old Salado Hotel. At that time, a young man shouted up to Brother Houston, “We can whip them Yankees with cornstalks.” Brother Sam replied, “That may be true, but they have not yet agreed to fight with cornstalks.”
In addition to the June 12 dinner at Stagecoach Inn, the Salado Masonic Lodge is taking part in an open house program of the Masonic Lodges across the state. Salado Masonic Lodge will open its doors to the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 27. If you have ever had an interest in the fraternity that traces its roots back to 1717 in England and includes among its members George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Sam Houston, David Crockett, James Bonham, Jim Bowie, Almaron Dickenson, Col. William Barrett Travis, John Wayne and both Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the open house will give you a chance to meet the local members of Salado Lodge and ask questions.
The Salado Masonic Lodge has a history closely connected to that of the Village and to the Salado College. Col. E.S.C. Robertson, who gave the land on which Salado College was built, was the first Master of Salado Lodge. The first mayor of Salado, Judge O.T. Tyler was an original member of Salado Lodge and his son George W. Tyler was made a Mason in Salado Lodge and went on to become the Grand Master of Texas Masons. Maj. A.J. Rose was also a Grand Master of Texas Masons when he was a member of Salado Masonic Lodge.
According to a brief history written by the late Charlton Johnson, a past Master of Salado Lodge, the petitioners for Dispensation and Charter were: E. Sterling C. Robertson, Harvey Smith, W.A. Davis, O.T. Tyler, A. Rowland, Robert B. Halley, Jno. A. Tyler, F. A. Bigelow, N.R. Land, H.J. Chamberlain, W.R. Karnes, G.W. Wade, M.W. Adams, Jno T. Flint, Geo. W. McWhirter, Welborn Barton, Jas. Tinnin, A. Tinnin, and Jesse Raborn.
The Minutes of Salado Lodge were destroyed in a fire about 1883 and we are deprived of that source of information as to the early activities of the Lodge, after Dispensation.
We may safely assume, however, that education was one of the principal objectives of the Lodge and a matter stressed in its discussions and proceedings.
Thirty-three percent of the teachers and seventy-seven percent of the Trustees of the College were Masons. The founders (of the College), most of whom have been found to be Masons, also made provision in the Deeds of purchase of lots to prohibit the sale of intoxicating beverages by the drink in Salado.
“It seems,” writes Mrs. Felda Shanklin, Salado historian, “that most all of those early Salado men were Masons.”
The Charter for Salado Masonic Lodge was granted by the Grand Lodge of Texas on June 15, A.D. 1867, and was signed by Grand Master John R. Freitwell.
The first Grand Lodge Report of Salado Lodge after the granting of a Charter shows the following officers: E.S.C. Robertson, W.M.; Harvey Smith, S.W.; W.A. Davis, J.W.; O.T. Tyler, Treas.; W. Barton, Sec.; J.W. Tinnin, S.D.; I. Raborn, J.D.; R.B. Halley, Tiler. This report also shows a membership of twenty-two M.M. by affiliation, one Fellowcraft, five Enter Apprentices, and one Past Master.
On the back of a Grand Lodge, Report U. D., there is this notation: “The Lodge Room of Salado Lodge is the second story of a stone building twenty by forty feet.” These figures are the same dimensions as those of one wing of the Salado College building and there seems to be no doubt that the College and the Lodge were using the same building in those early days – an arrangement that is not surprising, since both had similar objectives and both had the same man, E. Sterling Robertson, as their highest official.
Later, Salado Lodge secured an interest in the title to the upper story of the Baptist Church in Salado, and for many years met in a Lodge room on the second floor of the church building. In a church rebuilding and enlargement program, the question came up as to how to dispose of the interest of the Lodge in the old building. This problem was solved by literally sawing off the upper half of the building and moving it to, and setting it up as a Lodge room a short distance away on some land donated to the Lodge by Bro. Charlton E. Johnson, Past Master of Salado Masonic Lodge.
There are four Masons who have been shown to be most influential and effective in the founding and maintaining of Salado College and Thomas Arnold High School. It is a most remarkable fact that all of these leaders in the educational field were contemporaries, and it is also a remarkable fact that a town so small as Salado and a Lodge so limited in membership that Salado Masonic Lodge could have nurtured four men whose great work in life was the advancement of education. It would be difficult to find a parallel in Texas.
Col. E. Sterling C. Robertson, leader and pioneer, who had a vision of a great school in the midst of a wilderness and who gave unreservedly of his time, his splendid talents and his money to make that vision a reality, and without whom there might never have been any Salado College, Masonic Lodge or town of Salado Springs; Major A. J. Rose, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, champion of education in general, with special emphasis upon the practical phase of education; George W. Tyler, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, advocate of, and tireless worker in, all fields of education, general and Masonic; and Dr. S. J. Jones, Ph.D., M.A., who brought to Thomas Arnold High School a polish, a luster and fame not surpassed in its day by any educational institution in Texas.
Past Grand Master Rose and Past Grand Master Tyler were both members of the Salado Lodge No. 296 at the time they were elevated to the high office, Bro. Rose in 1886 and Bro. Tyler in 1891. Bro. Tyler and Bro. Jones were each raised a Master Mason in Salado Lodge No. 296.