With a legacy encompassing 165 years, a history of the Gonzales Lodge No. 30 would almost be a history of Texas itself
One cannot speak of Gonzales, without mentioning Freemasonry and its impact on our community. Freemasonry is the largest and oldest Fraternity in the world, and in Gonzales, it’s no different. Gonzales Masonic Lodge No. 30 has conducted business, performed charitable acts and provided scholarships for more than 165 consecutive years. The lodge was chartered on Jan. 17, 1847, and has been located at its present location of 519½ St. Joseph Street for 115 of those years.
The city of Gonzales has a rich history with Freemasonry. For example, six of the Gonzales “Old Eighteen” were Freemasons. No other lodge of its size has furnished such a large number of noted men to the Craft. It has provided the Grand Lodge with five Grand Masters, including the late James F. Miller, Judge B.R. Abernethy, John B. McMahon, Chief Justice W.S. Fly and Hon. W.M. Fly, the last two remaining the most distinguished in Masonic circles of Texas for some time. Chief Justice Fly, the last Grand Master from Gonzales Lodge, never missed attending any of the Grand Lodge meetings for 57 consecutive years. It is said that no member in this country held more honors in the Masonic Lodge than did W.S. Fly. According to J.H. Daniel, Secretary of the Lodge in 1923, “writing a history of the Gonzales Lodge No. 30 would almost be a history of Texas.” From its beginning, it played a prominent part in Masonry, having outstanding men on its membership rolls. These men in their time made history, had great vision, and aided greatly to make Texas the state she is today.
In 1889, the Masons laid the cornerstone for the Gonzales High School. The original cornerstone is now located at the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery. In 1901, Masons laid the cornerstone for the old Gonzales Cotton Mill, and in 1924, laid the cornerstone for the new Presbyterian Church building.
While Texas was a Republic, Masons served in many pivotal positions. All of the Presidents, Vice Presidents and Presidents pro tempore of the Senate were all Masons. What did Texas heroes such as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, William B. Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, James Bonham, Ben Milam, David G. Burnet, James Fannin, Mirabeu B. Lamar, Lorenza de Zavala, Edward Burleson, Jose Navarro, Juan N. Seguin, R.E.B. Baylor and Thomas Rusk all have in common? They were all Freemasons.
Did you know that Brad Paisley, Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen, Arnold Palmer, Steve Wozniak, Richard Dreyfuss, Chief Justice David B. Sentelle are as well?
Freemasons use operative mason tools as symbols by which to teach Masonic philosophy. The terms “acting on the square” and “on the level” are Masonic terms which have filtered down into everyday language. This brings us to the most common question, “What is Freemasonry?” It is the oldest and largest worldwide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. Freemasons do not solicit membership. In order to be a Mason, you must take the first step. If you’d like more information, email the lodge secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re already a Mason, you are invited to attend the stated meetings held the first Monday of the month. The meal is at 6:30 p.m.; the meeting is at 7:30 p.m.
Blake L. Bowden is a past worshipful master for Gonzales Lodge A.F.&A.M. No. 30.