Lodge History

Our mother Lodge, Hondo Valley Lodge No. 252 U.D. (Under Dispensation), met Saturday afternoon, May 18, 1856, at 2 PM in the Methodist Episcopal Church South on the Masonic Springs Road. The first order of business was to elect the remaining officers. Previously selected and named in the dispensation were George W. Robbins Worshipful Master, George W. Harper Senior Warden and R.C. Smith Junior Warden. The appointed officers were Squire Boone Treasurer, John Redus Senior Deacon, N.M.C. Patterson Junior Deacon, and Williams Burrow, Tiler. Others attending the meeting were John Kennedy, I.J. Hale, W.G. Goodwin, James B.Davenport, and I.N Elam, J. Jones, George Redus. L.E. Taylor, James B. McLemore, Christian Steiglar, and I.H. Tucker from Alamo Lodge No. 44 in San Antonio. During the meeting the subject of building a lodge hall was discussed. On a motion of the lodge, a committee consisting of brothers Redus, Smith and Tilley were to investigate the joint debt between the church and the lodge and the proportion thereof justly due from the Lodge .It was in year 1865 that the first legal evidence appeared which connected the lodge with the church that occupied the old stone structure. A conveyance from the church trustees to the Lodge was recorded in Volume 7, page 478 of the Medina County Deed records which granted the Lodge one half undivided interest in the ten acres of land and upper story of the building, with the undisturbed right of passage to and from the lower room to the upper story. The church and lodge building was located near the little town of New Fountain, about eight miles east of Hondo and three miles south of the present New Fountain Methodist Church. The building was erected of large, irregular flagstone rock. It stood on a hill overlooking the Hondo Creek. A stagecoach stop and a spring were located near by. The road leading to the old lodge site is called the Masonic Springs Road. In the 1850s settlers lived on both sides of the Hondo Creek in the fertile valleys. They chose this area because of the availability of fresh water, rich soil and plenty of wild game. In a few years Masons living in this area became acquainted and expressed a desire to form a Lodge. They petitioned Alamo Lodge No. 44 in San Antonio for their recommendation to the Grand Lodge of Texas to form a Lodge. Approval was granted. Comanche Indians killed Ruben C. Smith on April 10, 1864 near his home on the Hondo Creek. He had bright red hair. He is buried in the Masonic Cemetery next to the old Lodge. His tombstone has the square and compass turned upside down and with the inscription “killed by the Indians”. Devine Lodge 590 and Hondo City Lodge 756 sponsored a Texas Memorial marker ceremony at 4 p.m. September 22, 1973, at the site. The inscription on the marker reads, ”Masonic Cemetery of Hondo Valley Lodge No. 252, AF&AM. In 1859, a decade after Medina County was created, Freemasons and others in the New Fountain settlement built a two-story stone church-Lodge hall at this site. The marker was unveiled by George M. Redus of Devine Lodge and Dr. O.B. Taylor of Hondo City Lodge. Hondo Valley Lodge No.252 AF&AM was chartered in 1860. The Lodge met there until 1877. They then bought a lot in Castroville next to the Land Mark Inn and built a new lodge hall and mortgaged it for $700.00 There was a lot of political unrest at that time. The towns of Hondo and Castroville were competing for the location of the County Seat. A railroad was being built which was originally scheduled to go through Castroville. The railroad builders decided to bypass Castroville and go through Hondo. During this period of unrest, the Lodge lost ten of its members. They could not make the payments on the lodge building and voted to demise in 1883. Most of the brethren lived on or near the Hondo Creek. Some of the members decided to start a lodge near Devine and others wanted one in Moore. John B. Jones Lodge 549 in Moore was chartered December 12, 1882 before the one in Devine. J.B. McMahon, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas was it first Worshipful Master. He was also a Past Master of Frio City Lodge in Pearsall. He is buried the Pearsall Cemetery. Our lodge had to get approval from Moore Lodge before it could start one in Devine. Approval was granted. John Redus was instrumental in starting Devine Lodge No. 590 in 1884. He was the first Worshipful Master and served in that capacity for three consecutive terms. He moved with his parents and siblings to Aberdeen, Mississippi when he was about 16 years old. He came to Texas in 1858 and bought land on the Hondo Creek about 14 miles west of Devine. He received his Masonic degrees in Alamo Lodge No. 44 in San Antonio, Texas in 1859. After the Civil War, the men returned home and began rounding up large herds of longhorn cattle, driving them to Kansas for the Eastern markets. He was among the first ranchers involved in this activity. On one of his drives to Kansas, he met with a large band of Osage Indians who demanded a beef from every herd for crossing their land. He offered them an animal in fair flesh, but they wanted one of their own choosing. When he refused them, the Indians ran head long into his herd, killing several hundred. On pages 216-217 of Wayne Gard’s book The ChisolmTrail, he wrote “The first herd to reach Fort Worth in 1875 was that of John Redus, who ran the V2 brand in Medina County. His 1020 beeves were grazing a few miles south of town by April 9. They were reported to be in fair condition for this early in the season and to have stood the trip well. Redus had become a big dealer in longhorns. He had been buying the herds of other cowmen. He sold his second herd of 1500 mixed cattle to Belcher & Company for $21,000. Members of our mother lodge were hardy men. . Many of them, including our first Worshipful Master John Redus, fought in the Civil War. T.J Hale was killed in the battle of Boston Mount. Other Lodge members were Wm.Burrows, M.V. Adams, P.T. Adams, B.F. Biggs, E.M.Downs, J.B. McLemore, O.H.McOmber, S.H. Reed, G.E. Tilley, George Redus, James Redus, William Redus, W.C. Burney and S.W. Cooper. The older men in Medina County belonged to a Civil War organization called the “Medina County Frontier Division”. Their primary duty was to protect the lives and property from Indians and Mexican soldiers who were stealing cattle while the younger men were off to war. One of the last fights against Indians took place on the Chacon Creek south of Devine. Two members of our Lodge, Pete Gardner and Ellis Tilley, were in this battle. An arrow pierced Gardner’s rear end. Past Master Pleasant E. McAnelly was a successful rancher on the Hondo Creek P.E. McAnelly’s mother and father met on a ship coming from Ireland and were married by the ship’s captain. She was from Germany and he from Ireland. Neither could speak the other’s language. He was injured in Fort Worth as he was unloading his cattle at a railroad siding. We celebrated our Lodge’s 75th anniversary on July 2, 1960. Frank Dodson was the Worshipful Master that year. Attending the event were Most Worshipful Grand Masters, John T. Bean and Jack Ball. Also attending was brother JimWeathersby, Grand J.W., and Dr. Jack B. Lee, who later became a Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Our 100th. Anniversary was held March 30, 1985. Brother Cliff Mueller was our Worshipful Master during the year. After the Lodge was opened, Brother Jack Kelly, Grand Senior Warden of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas introduced Right Worshipful Grand Master Bob Scott of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas. Following a very impressive Lodge meeting, we adjourned and proceeded to the Devine High School for a banquet and program. Some 260 members and guests attended. Worshipful Master Cliff Mueller presented Grand Master Scott with a new Stetson hat and Mrs. Scott was given a beautiful quilt made by members of our Eastern Star Chapter. The following is a brief account of the building of our present lodge hall. In August of 1957, Past Master Levi Hardcastle invited members of our lodge to go with him to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to watch a Master’s degree conferred by our Mexican brethren. After the lodge degree was conferred, he invited us to his house in Laredo for a short visit. He gave a donation of $25.00 toward the building of a new Lodge hall. That night we raised $150.00. Past Master John Williams and Cecil Messec Sr. started a lodge newsletter to report on the planning, financing and construction of the new lodge. Brother Bassett and his wife donated the land on which our building stands. From that point on, things really began to happen. On a Saturday morning in April of 1961, ten brethren got together on the lot and began staking if off. Five of us hauled in 75 loads of fill dirt while others dug retaining walls and roughed in the plumbing. J.R Waddell furnished and tied in all of the reinforcing steel .The following Saturday morning we poured the slab. Brother Douglas Downing went to Elmendorf and hauled bricks for the building. After the brick was put up, brothers Joe and Buster McCullough built and installed the roof trusses. One afternoon there were over 20 of us putting on shingles. The Eastern Star ladies and our Rainbow girls served the workers with snacks and drinks. Sizeable money contributions were received. Members of our Lodge donated their expertise in installing the air conditioning ductwork, electrical wiring, the air conditioner, plumbing, shelving, and flooring. We were far enough along in November 1961 to ask the Grand Lodge for permission to move in. Permission was granted in December 1961. Robert L. Dilliard, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, dedicated the new Lodge Hall on February 24, 1962.Two hundred members and guests attended the Cornerstone and Dedication service. During the 1880s new towns sprang up along the new railroad being built to Laredo. Devine’s original settlement was about a mile north of Keller’s park off of Texas Highway No. 173. It was named Nicksville after the first Post Master. It relocated to its present site when the train tracks were laid. The town of Benton City moved west to become Lytle, and the prosperous little village of FrioTown moved to Moore and later to Pearsall. Moore had two banks, a saloon, a jail, two cemeteries, two cotton gins, two churches and a Masonic Lodge. It was the largest town between San Antonio and Laredo. Brother John B. McMahon, Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas was. the first Worshipful Master of John B. Jones Lodge in Moore. Devine Lodge No. 590 had to obtain approval from the Lodge in Moore to start our lodge in Devine. Moore Lodge thrived for several years but demised within a few years when membership declined. Most of their members transferred their membership to Pearsall. A few came to Devine.