Bay City Masonic Lodge No. 865 A. F. & A. M.
 



 


BAY CITY MASONIC LODGE NO. 865 A. F. & A. M.
Submitted by Kenneth L. Thames 

In 1902, eight years after Bay City was founded, there were some twenty Masons living in the  area of Bay City.   They came  from diverse sections  of the  country; no two  Masons were from the same lodge.  At that time there was only one Masonic Lodge in Matagorda County, Tres  Palacios Lodge No. 411 A. F. & A.M., which was chartered June 8, 1884 (renamed Blessing Lodge No. 411 when it was moved to Blessing around 1903)  and was  situated some 15 miles from  Bay City  on the  Tres Palacios River at Deming’s Bridge (where Hawley Cemetery is located).  It is interesting to note that Matagorda Masonic Lodge No. 7, A. F. & A. M.  had lost its’ charter in 1868 and was rechartered   in   1911  and  is  active  today.  Bay  City   Lodge   No.   865 signed  their petition for reinstatement.

A petition for the dispensation to form a lodge in Bay City was presented to the Most Worshipful Grand Master  (M.W.G.M.) of the Grand  Lodge of Texas William Clark, in April 1902, and was signed by the following  Master Masons from Bay City:  C. F. Baker,  Jr.,   J.  W. Brown,  John  T. Sargent, Dr.  James   Byars,  T.  F. Carr, R.  W. Fullwood,  John A. Green, James M. Hamby,  W. P. Johnson,  W. H. Glenn,  Isadore Marks,   E. F. Higgins,  Dr. A. S. Morton,  Dr. E. E. Scott, Theodore  Schaedel,  John Sutherland, J. M. Moore, and W. C. Carpenter.

On April  13, 1902,  the Grand Master  issued his  dispensation  authorizing the  said brethren  to organize a lodge  and confer the degrees of  the Blue  Lodge at Bay City, known as  Bay City Lodge No. 865  A. F. & A. M.   The petition was endorsed by Tres Palacios   Lodge  No. 411  A. F. & A. M.   The  following  officers  were named:  W. C. Carpenter, Worshipful Master; Isadore Marks, Senior Warden; A. S. Morton, Junior Warden; E. F. Higgins, Secretary: V. L. LeTulle, Treasurer; and C. F. Baker, Tiler.

Shortly  after  the granting  of  the dispensation,  the  lodge was  instituted  by D.D.G.M. J. J. Davis of Galveston.  Records as to the exact date were lost in the very strong 1909 hurricane  which  severely  damaged  the  Masonic  building  as  well  as  many  other structures in Bay City.  The charter was dated December 4, 1902.

The 23 Charter Members were: Dr. E. E. Scott, A. C. Fox, W. P. Johnson, Ernest Zuch, Isadore Marks,  J. W. Brown, R.W. Fullwood, Dr. A. S. Morton, V. L. LeTulle, J. M. Moore,  John A. Green,  C.  F. Baker,  T.  F. Carr,  J. M. Sims,  J. M. Hamby,   John Sutherland,  J. T. Sargent,  Theodore Schaedel, Dr. James Byars, W. H. Glenn, E. F. Higgins, M. N. Cain and W. C. Carpenter.

The first lodge meetings were  held on the  second floor of a two-story wooden building, which housed a saloon on the first floor.  Worshipful Master W.C. Carpenter wrote of the location,  “Pardon the allusion,   there  was not  an  elevator  connecting  the  two places.” [Looking at old photographs of Bay City, there was a wooden two story saloon - Gem Saloon - on the North side of the square on the Northeast corner of Ave. F and 7th St.]

On March 24, 1906, A. S. Morton, W. C. Carpenter, V. L.  LeTulle, C. F.  Baker and Theodore Schaedel as Trustees of the lodge purchased from N. King of Adams Co., IL and J. C. Wood of Bee Co., TX part of lot 8 in block 77 of the Bay City Townsite - a plat of ground 20 x 35  feet on the West end of the lot. [Vol. 17, pg. 221 Matagorda County Deed Records] Then on July 16, 1906 the same Trustees, in an agreement with Henry Rugeley concerning a common wall, purchased part of lots 6 and 7 in block 77 - a plat of ground  35 x 50  feet on the West end of the  lots for the  purpose of erecting a two story brick or concrete building, the upper floor being used for Masonic purposes and the  lower floor  to be rented.  [Description from deed]  [Vol. 17, pg.  224  Matagorda County Deed Records]  The Trustees  had purchased the back  of the space BEFORE they purchased the front - they had great faith!

The new building was designed by Jules Leffland, Plan #1028, with Hatchett & Large (local construction company) as carpenters. In a matter of only six months the two story brick building  was constructed at a cost of  $7,000.00.  It is described as a two story, three bay brick early 20th century commercial style building featuring elaborate brick corbelling and arched second story windows. This beautiful building still stands now, over 100 years later.

On March 8, 1908 a fire destroyed every structure on the West side of the square facing the courthouse between 6th and 7th Streets, but fortunately it was unable to cross over 7th St and damage the lodge.

The members of Masonic Lodge No. 865 have met regularly through the years, and they have conducted many Masonic funerals and appeared in public in regalia (decorations or insignia indicative  of an office or membership) for special occasions. 

In  1909,  under  proper  dispensation,  the  lodge  laid  the  cornerstone  of  the  First Methodist Church in Bay City with  William Walker, Worshipful Master, presiding. Mr. Walker owned the first furniture and embalming service in Bay City and also was the first Fire Chief] In 1915 the lodge laid the cornerstone for the First Baptist Church of Bay City, with Thomas  H. Lewis,  Worshipful Master, conducting the ceremonies. [Mr. Lewis served as a County Judge for many years]

The lodge has prospered  all these  years with  the exception  of the depression in the 1930's.  There was one year during  which the  lodge was  in arrears with the Grand Lodge of Texas for not paying assessments.

A movement  was begun to  build a new  building due to several reasons, chief among them  were the  age  and condition of the  structure, a  lack of parking space near the lodge  and the difficulty  some of the older members were having ascending the steep steps to reach the lodge on the second floor. 

On February 8, 1961 the lodge purchased  0.674  acres of land out of the Elisha  Hall League   from   Nathan  and  Dorothy   Blum.  The  property  was  located  on  South Highway 60 (Avenue F) near the city limits. [Vol. 365 pg. 162 Matagorda County Deed Records]    Little  did  they   know  of  the  catastrophe   that  was about  to strike the Matagorda County area seven months later.

On September 11, 1961  Hurricane Carla caused much  damage to Matagorda County and  to  the  fifty-four  year  old lodge  building.   The  building was repaired and the  brethren set out to construct a new building.  With donations from: York Rite Bay City Chapter No. 315, Bay City Council No. 251 and Bay City Commandery No. 74; from Bay City Chapter No. 380,  Order of the Eastern Star;  from the sale of the old lodge building on June 26, 1962 to Thomas L. Burchfield and Melvin A. Epstein [Vol. 288 pg 683 Matagorda County Deed Records] and with the sale of several city lots owned by the lodge, construction of the new building began in July 1962.

The official cornerstone-laying ceremony was presided over by Grand Master of Texas Robert L. Dillard, Jr. of Dallas on August 17,1962.

The  building  was  completed  in January  1963,  and  the lodge  moved into the new building free of debt. An open house was held on Saturday January 26, 1963 and the public was invited to see their beautiful new home.

Officers of the lodge were: R. L. Chandler, Worshipful  Master;  A. W. Noster, Senior Warden;  R.  I. Hoke,  Junior  Warden;  J.  P. Mielsch,  Secretary;  Ramon Johnson, Treasurer;  A. M.  Barber, Senior Deacon;  Kermit Spielman,  Junior Deacon;  H. I. White, Chaplain; W. E. Frazier, Senior Steward; Bert L. Huebner, Junior Steward; and D. B. Wells, Tiler.  Members of the Building Committee were: George R. Brown, Chairman; C. S. Garrett, J. W. Lesiker and J. W. Sanders. 

The    new    Matagorda   County    Sheriffs   office    administrative   building     was dedicated  on  December  27, 2006 with  Brian Dodson, Grand  Master of the  Grand Lodge of Texas presiding over the cornerstone-laying ceremony.  Ten brothers of the lodge  who work  for the  Sheriffs  Department and were present include Sheriff James Mitchell  and  Deputies  Jake  Roberts,  Ron  Ballenger,  Stephen  Baker, David Miles, Randy  Worthey, Wayne Dekle,  Bob Moore and Eldas J. (EJ) Bertrand.

Brothers   Gregg    Westmoreland,  who  was   County   Judge  at  the  time,   George Deshotels  who was  County Commissioner for Precinct 2 and Robert Bertrand, a Citizens Academy Alumni and the current Worshipful Master were also present.

Since the inception of the lodge in 1902 its members have been the shakers and makers of Bay City  and Matagorda  County with  involvement  in all aspects  of the growth and development of the city and county, its governments, its infrastructures- fire - sheriff and police,  its  businesses  including  doctors,  dentists,  lawyers  and  funeral directors, its schools, churches and other organizations.  Many of its members over the years proudly served in the military and are members of Philip H. Parker VFW Post 2438 [named after the son of Past Worshipful  Master Herbert  H. Parker who was a fighter pilot in WWII and  was killed in action  over China]  and Bay City American Legion Post 11.  Several  lodge members  have been both a Worshipful Master of the lodge and a Commander of one of the veterans organizations.

Activities    Lodge    No.   865   are   involved   in    today    include:   annual    college scholarship  and at  Christmas a  motorcycle  run  to obtain toys for underprivileged children.

By 1919 the membership had grown from 23 to 159, in 2007, there were 195  members of the lodge.

T. J. Poole, Worshipful Master 1909-1910 - photo courtesy of Blessing Masonic Lodge No. 411
 


PAST MASTERS BAY CITY LODGE NO. 865 A. F. & F. M.

W. C. Carpenter

1902-1904

I. Marks

1904-1905

Albert Searce Morton

1905-1906

Rev. John Sloan

1906-1907

G. A. Moore

1907-1908

William Walker

1908-1909

T. J. Poole

1909-1910

John W. Gaines

1910-1911

Dr. J. W. Reed

1911-1912

G. W. Adams

1912-1913

Richard R. Lewis

1913-1914

Thomas H. Lewis

1914-1915

Bert Carr

1915-1916

G. E. Serrill

1916-1917

Seth S. Taylor

1917-1918

A. Harris, Sr.

1918-1919

C. M. Gaines

1919-1920

E. N. Gustafson

1920-19121

C. A. Erickson

1921-1922

E. E. Williamson

1922-1923

W. F. Tetts

1923-1924

R. E. Britt

1924-1925

F. A. Verser, Jr.

1925-1926

D. E. Cates

1926-1927

F. J. Baker

1927-1928

P. S. Lewis

1928-1929

Frank S. Taylor

1929-1930

Herbert Hackley Parker

1930-1931

L. M. Matchett

1931-1932

P. R. Hamill

1932-1933

R. S. Davidson

1933-1934

S. G. Selkirk

1934-1935

J. J. Spurgeon

1925-1936

H. S. Mosley

1936-37

A. D. Magruder

1937-1938

Hiram Isaac White

1938-1939

C. S. Jones

1939-1940

Luther Bunch

1940-1941

C. E. Newman

1941-1942

Aaron Greenberg

1942-1943

W. M. Morehead

1943-1944

R. A. Christy

1944-1945

J. F. Ward

1945-1946

S. Burr

1946-1947

J. Lawrence

1947-1948

T. Mayberry

1948-1949

Wayne Butler

1949-1950

R. C. Crocker

1950-1951

E. C. Davis

1951-1952

W. P. Holman

1952-1953

J. A. Taylor

1953-1954

C. S. Garrett

1954-1955

Jim M. Warnock

1955-1956

J. H. Cox

1956-1957

Douglas B. Wells

1957-1958

E. L. Gentry

1958-1959

W. B. Sirman

1959-1960

John Paul Mielsch

1960-1961

W. R. Mullenax

1961-1962

R. L. Chandler

1962-1963

A. W. Noster

1963-1964

R. I. Hoke

1964-1965

A. M. Barber

1965-1966

Kermit Spielman

1966-1967

W. E. Frazier

1967-1968

George R. Brown

1968-1969

Carl R. Ogletree

1969-1970

Pierre E. Gordon

1970-1971

Henry Mann

1971-1972

L. R. Thomas

1972-1973

Harrell D. Gibbs

1973-1974

Samuel O. Evans, Jr.

1974-1975

Ed W. Reynal

1975-1976

C. E. McKinney

1976-1977

John T. Lynch

1977-1978

H. C. Mayo

1978-1979

Paul Pennington

1979-1980

G. Williamson

1980-1981

L. L. Sutton

1981-1982

G. W. Dokes

1982-1983

J. A. Thompson

1983-1984

M. Plemons

1984-1985

Lew Wallace

1985-1986

T. M. Abendroth

1986-1987

R. J. McElhenny

1987-1988

H. F. Vallely

1988-1989

D. E. Cockrell

1989-1990

M. C. Smith

1990-1991

P. H. Barron

1991-1992

E. J. Dare

1992-1993

H. L. Carroll, Jr.

1993-1994

W. E. Holland

1994-1995

M. L. Coppinger

1995-1996

Bruce D. Smith

1996-1997

Rodney R. Mount

1997-1998

J. Barry Fry

1998-1999

William Sturtz

1999-2000

Kenneth Mead

2000-2001

Randy Smith

2001-2002

John Woolsey

2002-2003

Wayne Dekle

2003-2004

S. Szeinbach

2004-2005

Donnie George

2005-2006

R. Bertrand

2006-2007

Stephen Baker

2007-2008

 

 


Gulf Coast Chapter, Order of DeMolay
 


Demolay Officers To Be Installed Open Ceremony

Bill Stuessy, a 17-year-old high school senior, will be installed as Master Councilor of the Gulf Coast Chapter, Order of DeMolay, at open ceremonies Wednesday, Jan. 28. Stuessy was elected to the Chapter's highest chair this past week. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Stuessy.

Elected to the chair of Senior Councilor was 15-year-old Richard Morgan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Morgan. Placed in the Junior Councilor's chair was Curtis Neumann, 16-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Neumann.

The three councilors-elect immediately named the following slate of officers for the February-May term:

Marshall, Ronnie Seerden; Chaplain, Marvin Kogutt; Senior Deacon, Gene Barber; Junior Deacon, Mickey Arnold; Senior Steward, Mike Martin; Junior Steward, C. G. Miller; Standard Bearer, Charles Hoppe; Orator, Roger Wilson; Sentinel, Claude Reinke; and Almoner, Scotty Wells.

Two teams of receptors were names: 1st Preceptor, Doug Nowell and Donald Wells; Second Preceptor, Pat Wade and Bill DeWolfe; Third Preceptor, Johnny Stansell and G. P. Hardy III; Fourth Preceptor; James Conroy and Leonard Hammond; Fifth Preceptor, Robert Noster and Jimmy Allen; Sixth Preceptor, Freddie Martin and Sammy Davidson; Seventh Preceptor, Roy Green and Butch Cashion. Richard Serrill was named Chief Preceptor, in charge of both teams.

Joe Collida, PMC, KT, was endorsed by the councilors - elect as Chapter Scribe. Jerry Dean, Joel Barlow and Johnny Long were named to the Robe & Wardrobe committee; Skipper Reddoch was placed in charge of the Flower and Sickness committee.

The Installation will start at 7:30 p. m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. at the Masonic Hall. All parents of DeMolays and interested Masons, Shriners and Eastern Star members are invited. The installing team will be headed by Joe Roth, PMC, KT, RD of the Wharton Chapter. Joe Collida, PMC, KT, and Sonny Salter, PMC, of the Gulf Coast Chapter, will deliver the Mother's Tribute. Other members of the installing team will come from chapters in the Gulf Coast District. Honor Guest for the occasion will be District Governor Harry B. Belk of Houston.

During the ceremonies, 28 members of the Gulf Coast Chapter will be awarded a total of 39 merit bars for Religion, Civic, and Ritual activity. Four members of the Chapter will receive Merit Recognition, and one member special recognition for Petition Service, according to Chapter Dad, Don Rhea.

Refreshments will be served by Martha Lee Brown, Chapter Sweetheart, and her two Duchesses, with the assistance of the Mother's Club.

Daily Tribune, January 23, 1959
 

 

Copyright 2013 - Present by Bay City Masonic Lodge 865
All rights reserved

Created
Sep. 5, 2013
Updated
Sep. 5, 2013
   

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