In early days of Harris County, East from the City of Houston, and the whole of Chambers County, was under the Masonic jurisdiction of Sampson Lodge, No. 231. Sampson Lodge was then located at Lynchburg, at that time a thriving town, and the shipping point for most of the cotton raised East of the San Jacinto River. The old settlements were far apart, with no roads except the wide prairies between them and with many deep bayous and creeks to cross, all without bridges, and with very few ferries. For many of the old settlers, even in dry seasons, to reach Lynchburg was a hard day’s journey. In wet seasons, the journey was almost impossible. But Lynchburg was the only place where a Masonic Lodge could live and thrive, because of all the population of the town, and the nearness of some of the older settlements. But some of the members of the lodge lived as far as thirty miles away.
However, in the late 1860’s of the last century, Cedar Bayou began to grow to some importance. On account of its brick manufacturing plants, the population had doubled and tripled in a few years. Some of the newcomers were Masons, and these, with some of the Brethren who were members of Sampson Lodge, but lived at a distance from Lynchburg, soon united, and applied to the Grand Lodge of Texas for a charter to establish a lodge at Cedar Bayou.
The charter members, three of whom had been selected to serve as principal officers of the new lodge were:
• Bro. H.F. Gillette, W.M.
• Bro. J.W. Scott, S.W.
• Bro. J.C. Kelly, J.W.
• Bro. C.M. Milam,
• Bro. S.G. Rosamond
• Bro. L.M. Kingsley
• Bro. J.W. Tompkins
• Bro. J.S. Brooks
• Bro. W.C. Scott
• Bro. Henry Dutton
• Bro. John S. Harrell
• Bro. Henry Hamlin
• Bro. Lewis Woodward
Up till this time the Baptists on and around Cedar Bayou had not been numerous enough to have a church building of their own, but now, having acquired an enlarged membership through new settlers, they decided to erect one, and as some of the members were Masons it was suggested that the Masons join the Baptist and erect a building that would be suitable for both. What arrangements were made between the two parties as to a building fund does not appear in our earliest records, but judging from later brief entries it would seem that the Lodge and the church had shared equally in the cost.
The application to the Grand Lodge of Texas for the charter having been acted upon favorably, and a dispensation granted, Cedar Bayou Lodge, U.D. met in the upper story of the new building on May 15, 1870, with the following officers and members present:
• Bro. H.F. Gillette, W.M.
• Bro. J.W. Scott, S.W.
• Bro. J.C. Kelly, J.W.
• Bro. S.G. Rosamond
• Bro. W.C. Scott
• Bro. Henry Dutton
• Bro. L.M. Kingsley
A Master Masons Lodge was opened, and the following additional officers were elected and appointed:
• Bro. W.C. Scott / Treasurer
• Bro. L.M. Kingsley / Secretary
• Bro. C.M. Milam / S.D.
• Bro. S.G. Rosamond / J.D.
• Bro. Henry Dutton / Tiler
At this first meeting, four applications for degrees were received, and referred to committees. These first applicants were:
1. James Armstrong
2. Joseph P. Smith
3. Charles Ilfrey
4. W.C. Kelly
A description of the first home of Cedar Bayou Lodge may be useful to show to present and future generations under what dis-advantages the pioneers of the Craft labored in the early days to establish Masonry on one of the last frontiers of Texas, and from which have grown the elaborateness, beauty and comfort that we know today in our work.
The ground dimensions of the building in which the Lodge first met were about fifteen feet by thirty feet. The walls were built box fashion, of rough lumber, with battens to cover the cracks. The gables of the building faced North and South. On the North end was an open stairway that led up to the Lodge room. Up this stairway, after having been prepared in the church below, the first candidates were conducted, and when an old fashioned sleety Norther was blowing it was not an altogether pleasant journey.
The Lodge room itself, in the beginning, was a bare room with naked walls, and an uncovered floor made from rough lumber. The stands at the stations were home made, and far from artistic in design. The Altar was a dry goods box, draped in brown cloth, and the chairs were benches without backs. To the best recollection of this historian, the room had only two windows, both in the West wall..
The building being situated as it was, North and South, it became necessary to move the stations eight points around the compass to allow for proper working conditions. Thus, the East was in the South, the South in the West, and the West in the North. The only improvement made in the Lodge room during the first year was to curtain off the North end of the hall for an antechamber.
After that, as finances allowed, improvements were made gradually. The floor was covered with some sort of matting, the walls were papered, the room was ceiled overhead, and a wall of lumber partitioned off the antechamber,. But this writer remembers that nearly two years after the house was built, when he happened to be in a rather recumbent position in the Lodge room, and chanced to look upward, he could see through the cracks between the clap boards how the stars were twinkling in the April sky.
The way to go anywhere in those earl days was to ride horseback. The horses were wiry little prairie ponies, the larger number of them either gotch-eared or hipshot. Only one or two of the members lived near enough to the lodge to go there on foot. Those living on the east side of the bayou had the wide prairie for a road with only a few deep miry gullies to cross, but those living on the West side must cross the bayou. The meeting time of the lodge was about the middle of the afternoon, “Saturday on or before the full moon.” The Brethren who would have to cross the bayou usually gathered at Ilfrey’s store, and would cross together, helping each other with the horses, some of which would go onto the flatboat used for a ferry, while the others, more wild, had to be towed across swimming.
This little cavalcade, at first, if work was anticipated, always provided itself with a lunch sufficient for all the members, to be eaten at some suitable time during the night. This lunch consisted mostly of crackers and sardines, and was washed down later with copious draughts of bayou water. Later on, however, an arrangement was made with Brother John Harrell, who lived just across the bayou from the lodge, to furnish refreshments, and some time between dark and midnight he would bring over a huge basketful of sandwiches and a large pot of steaming coffee. And what a feast! No modern banquet can furnish anything to equal its deliciousness.
The charter dated June 18, 1870, having been received, the first stated meeting was held on July 9, when the officers of the Lodge were installed, and the first degrees conferred.
At the stated meeting of the Lodge on December 3, it being the meeting just preceding the day of St. John the Evangelist, the first regular election of officers was held, and Brother H.F. Gillette was again elected Worshipful Master.
As early as at a meeting of the Lodge in April, 1871, the question of a new location for a Masonic building was brought up, and a committee was appointed to make a selection. In June the committee reported that they had selected the lot on which the present Lodge building stands. No action on the report is stated in the minutes of that date, but at the next meeting of the Lodge the committee is reported being discharged.
It was not alone the inconvenient location of the Lodge at that time that brought up the question of a new site for it. The church people, at least some of them, were constantly finding fault with the doings of the Lodge, and justifiably so, perhaps as in the following instance. At one meeting a deacon of the church, who was also a member of the Lodge, announced that he had been instructed by his church brethren to enter a protest against the Masons for raising their voices and singing, “Hark from the Tomb” at midnight.
However to show that the Masons felt the moral responsibilities that rested upon them, even at that early date, when the country was comparatively new and somewhat wild, an incident taken from the records of the Lodge will clearly prove. One of the Brethren had “looked upon the wine when it was red,” and had imbibed “not wisely but too well.” Charges were preferred against him for un-masonic conduct. He was tried by the Lodge, found guilty, and reprimanded.
At the end of the first full Masonic year, the Lodge had a membership of seventeen with several Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craft upon the way.
During the next few years, nothing of any historical value appears upon the minutes except receiving petitions, balloting, and conferring degrees, rendering relief when needed, and conducting the regular business of the Lodge.
However, on May 29, 1874, it is noted: “On this date, Cedar Bayou failed to meet on account of inclement weather for the first time since its organization.
On the minutes for December 12, 1874, we read: “The Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master of the 14th Masonic district, Rev. R.W. Hubert, visited the Lodge, examined the records and the Lodge room, and expressed himself as well pleased with everything.” This was the first visit to the Lodge by a representative of the Grand Lodge.
By the end of the year 1874, the Lodge had 42 members.
After having lain dormant, apparently, for nearly four years, the question of moving the Lodge to a more convenient place was again brought up on March 20, 1875, for the minutes state on that date: “Brother J.C. Kelly, on behalf of the Baptist Church, made a proposition to this lodge to exchange a building lot for the interest of this Lodge in the present hall. The Worshipful Master appointed the following committee to confer with Brother Kelly, Brothers C.M. Milam, J.W. Tompkins, and J.S. Harrell to report at next meeting.”
On May 15, 1875, the above committee reported that three lots were available for building sites:
• The Brickyard
• The Baptist
• The J.T. Pounds Lot
A vote was taken by the Lodge, and the Pounds lot was declared the choice. This is the same lot on which the committee appointed in 1871 had reported favorably, and on which the Lodge building now stands. After this selection had been made, a finance committee was appointed as follows:
• Brother H.F. Gillette
• Brother S.G. Rosamond
• Brother L.M. Kingsley
How important this appointment was at that critical time, and how hard and serious the duties of the committee would be, may be inferred from a motion made and carried at the next meeting that, “The Stewards are directed to furnish only coffee and crackers for refreshments.”
At this meeting a building committee was also appointed, consisting of:
• Brother Henry Dutton
• Brother J.W. Tompkins
• Brother C. Wilburn
• Brother L.M. Kingsley
• Brother S.G. Rosamond, Chairman
From this point, until the building was finished, the records are silent as to all building operations, so the historian must draw on his memory for at least some of the details.
The lumber for the building was sawed to order at Pensacola, Florida, and brought to Cedar Bayou by schooner. That it was strictly fist class material is proved by the present condition of the building. The vessel that brought the lumber barely escaped being caught in the Gulf by the great storm that swept the Texas Coast so destructively in September of that year. The schooner arrived at the mouth of Cedar Bayou just as the storm struck here in all its fury. It was often commented upon for years afterward that had the vessel been caught anywhere else by the storm, it, the crew, and the lumber would surely have been lost.
There are no accounts left today to show what prices were paid for the materials for the building. The bricks for the foundation of the building were furnished by Rosamond, Milam & Bro., and when the bill, in the final settlement, was handed to the building committee, it was marked “Paid.” Most of the labor was donated, only one man, the superintendent of the building operations, was ever aid any money out of the building fund.
On April 8, 1876, it was announced that the next meeting of the Lodge would be held in the new hall. At this same meeting, some actions were taken that throw some light on the financial condition of the Lodge, and at the same time its readiness to share with the community its possessions. One resolution reads: “Resolved, that owing to the Lodge building, a new hall, it is found inexpedient to pay anything this year towards building of the Texas Masonic Orphans Home.” Another resolution reads: “That the Public Common School shall be permitted to occupy the new school room as soon as the building committee see proper. And the teacher shall be held responsible for the care of the room.”
To judge from the foregoing the lodge must have used the new hall for its next meeting, but no note is made of it on the minutes, nor of any dedication. It seems, however, that Brother H.F. Gillette had been appointed by the Grand Master to attend to that part of it, and that some sort of ceremony was gone through with. The minutes, however, state that, “On motion the thanks of the Lodge were voted to the building committee, and particularly to the chairman.”
At the next meeting, on July 7, bills on account of the building to the amount of $1,005.21 were ordered paid, and a committee was appointed to borrow money, in the name of the Lodge, to pay all indebtedness remaining. This committee, at the next meeting, reported that the money could be borrowed at ten percent interest per annum, and the Lodge authorized the Master and the Wardens to sign one note for $450, and one for $135, both due in one years, drawing interest until paid. These notes represented the balance due on the building. It was also decided to insure the building against fire for three years for $2,000.
The Lodge at this time had about 50 members, a Lodge room very poorly furnished, no fence around the property, and a debt of $585.00.
From the beginning there is nothing on our records to show what interest the Lodge really had in the Baptist Church building,, the upper story of which it had occupied for the first five years of its existence, but on November 25, 1876, this is noted on the minutes of that meeting, “On motion, this Lodge relinquishes to the Baptist Church all rights and titles to the Baptist Church building.”
On Monday June 25, 1877, this being the day following the Day of St. John the Baptist, the Lodge met and installed its officers for the ensuing Masonic y ear. Hitherto all subordinate Lodges had installed their officers on December 27, the Day of St. John the Evangelist. This change had been made by the Grand Lodge at the previous annual communication.
The following resolution was adopted on July 1, 1877; “Resolved, That the three principal officers of this Lodge shall have full control of this building, Lodge and school room, and are responsible for the safekeeping of the building.” This resolution is still in force.
Another resolution, adopted March 16, 1877 reads “Resolved that every Brother receiving the degree of a Master Mason, be required to give in open Lodge, within three months of receiving the degree, the obligation of a Master Mason.” This resolution was enforced for several years, and has never been repealed.
It was on St. John’s Day, June 24, 1879, that the Lodge held its first public installation, and with it gave a free barbecue. From that time, until the starting of the World War, with one or two exceptions, this was a yearly event. It was the one opportunity of the year that the whole community had, men, women, and children, to com out and meet each other, with the assurance of having a good time. What this meant to an isolated place like Cedar Bayou can not be computed in cents and dollars, for the fame of these public gatherings, under the auspices of the Lodge, went far abroad. Before the advent of the automobile, Houston and Galveston and the places between would send their crowds by boats, and from miles around visitors would come on horseback, in wagons and buggies, to partake of, and enjoy the hospitality that the people of Cedar Bayou offered to all, on this their one gala day of the year.
That this yearly public installation, with its barbecue and picnic, was an asset of the Lodge the old timers fully realized. It fostered a friendly feeling toward Masonry among the people. It kindled desire, and a hope in the breasts of the young, that they too, someday might be deemed worthy to become members of the Craft, enabling them to personally contribute something toward the happiness of others, and the consequent well being of the community in which they were growing up. Indeed, there are members of this Lodge today who are ready to admit that only for the influence that these public meetings had upon their young lives, they would not have become the men and Masons that they are today.
At the end of the Masonic year 1881, the Lodge, after paying some of its outstanding notes, still owed a little over a one hundred dollars. But the greatest strain was over, and the little economies that had been practiced so long were thrown to the winds. The heats of the Stewards were gladdened too for after that they were directed to prepare refreshments at the meetings of the Lodge.
During that year too, a resolution was adopted that the school room under the Lodge should be used for educational purposes only. Previously, political and other meetings had been allowed to be held there often causing little frictions between some of the members of the Lodge and interfering with the powers of the committee being charged with the safekeeping of the building.
Here is an instance recorded in the minutes of November 5, 1881 that shows the spirit of the Lodge while still in debt. A letter from the Grand Master was received, requesting the Lodge to send aid to “the Michigan sufferers.” The nature of calamity that had over taken our Michigan Brethren is not stated, and your historian’s memory fails, but a motion was made and carried, “that the Treasurer be instructed to send twenty five dollars to the Grand Secretary in aid of the sufferers, and that the members of the Lodge make up the amount among themselves and pay it back into the treasury of the Lodge.”
In 1877, the Lodge had a membership of 55, which in 1888 had dwindled down to 31. This decrease was caused by the general depression of business which prevailed all over the country during these years. Building operations were almost at a standstill, and in consequence the brickyards had to close down, and most of the employees, many of who were Masons, were compelled to seek employment elsewhere, and in due time were either demitted, or dropped from the rolls because of non payment of dues. Finally none remained except those who had permanent homes here, and were able to make a living from their little farms, or from whatever other business they were engaged in.
Until 1882, the Lodge had no special Charity Fund, all the moneys for relief having been taken from the general fund, and then only after action had been taken by the Lodge. But on April 1, of that year, the Charity Fund as it now exists was created by resolution. This resolution provides that twenty per cent of the gross receipts of the Lodge be set aside for the fund. That the Master, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary, are the committee on charity and relief. That by a vote of any three of this committee they are allowed to use ten dollars out of the fund for the immediate relief of any applicant found worthy. That no part of the Charity Fund can be diverted to any other use than that of charity, except by a two thirds vote of all the members of the Lodge. Under these regulations, the committee works unhampered when immediate action is needed.
Up till about 1885, the Lodge still used much of its old and primitive furniture. That year, the pillars were bought and installed to the Lodge, the Altar, and the stands at the different stations that are used at present. Many other donations were made by different Brethren, none of which, however, are noted in our minutes, but were nevertheless of material benefit to the Lodge. It was thus that the old timers kept the work going when the future looked the darkest, and the need was greatest by constant self offerings, and a faith that surmounted all obstacles.
In April, 1888, the ground composing the Masonic Cemetery was bought. Cedar Bayou Chapter, No. 11, O.E.S. paid half the purchase price, but the title was made to Cedar Bayou Lodge, the Lodge to pay for the clearing of the ground, and to have supervision over the laying out and the selling of the lots.
The platform in the East, the places for the stations, and the raised part of the floor along the walls were ordered built at the regular meeting in May, 1889, but with this clause in the resolution ordering it: “Provided, that the cost does not exceed twenty five dollars.” That this provision was complied with is proved at a later meeting when the committee presented a bill for $24.45 for materials, which was ordered paid. No bill for labor was ever presented.
Thus, little by little, progress was made, always under strain for the means to meet financial obligations. And then in the early part of the year 1897, it was found that the building must have a new roof, and that if needed repainting. The public then having had the free use of the school room for over twenty years, it was suggested that a committee be appointed by the Lodge to visit the patrons of the school who were not Masons, and see if they would not be glad to contribute something to help paying for the repairs of the building. The committee was duly appointed, and proceeded to perform the duty assigned to it. At the next meeting of the Lodge the committee reported that one school patron had contributed one dollar. This dollar the committee was instructed to return to the giver with the thanks of the Lodge. That this scheme to collect money failed, should no, however, be blamed altogether to the lack of public spirit on Cedar Bayou. All the three members of the soliciting committee declared unanimously that if any blame for the failure to collect funds was to be attached to anything or anybody, to lay it upon them, and it was accordingly so done. Anyway the repairs were made and paid for.
At the end of the Masonic year 1900, the Lodge had 41 members, an increase of ten since 1888, when the membership was only 31, the lowest since the third year after the organization of the Lodge. This slow recovery was not due to any lack of energy within the Lodge, but to the lack of material without with which to build. Frequent notes on the minutes show that interest in the Lodge never lagged, and that frequent meetings were held to exemplify the work in the different degrees. In that last decade of the last century there were never any little bickering or disagreements of any kind, only just that truly Masonic “contention, or rather emulation, to see who could best work and best agree.”
Some time in the early 90’s, the hour for the regular meetings was changed from 3 o’clock p.m. to 7 o’clock p.m. This change was made to save time for the members for their regular avocations. From the time of the organization of the Lodge, until this change was made, the roads had been such that it took some of the members several hours to reach the Lodge, and another several hours to return to their homes. There had been, too, previous to this, a feeling among the younger members that changing the hours for the meetings until after dark might prevent some of the Brethren who had grown old in the service of the Lodge from attending at night. Now, however, when fairly good roads, bridges and ferries had some into existence, the coming and going would not be so much of a hardship to anyone, especially as the meetings would still be when the full moon governed the night.
During the next decade the membership nearly doubled, being 81 in 1910. This increase was partly due to the natural increase of the population in the community, but mostly, perhaps, because of the influx of new people when the rice farms opened on both sides of the bayou. However, the new members found the Lodge well established, in good condition financially, and the old timers ready to welcome them, and give them the opportunity, perhaps long sought, to become permanently located as good men and Masons.
Previous to the year 1908, the Lodge had elected to honorary membership a few of the Brethren who were old Masons, and who had served the Lodge faithfully for many years. But on May 9, of that year, this amendment to the By-Laws was adopted, which places old members on the honorary roll automatically: “All members who have been members of this Lodge for thirty three years shall be exempt from dues so long as they remain members thereof.”
Now at the close of the Masonic year 1920, the Lodge has a membership of 139. During the first years of this decade the membership decreased a little, but since then the increase has been very rapid, due principally to the oil fields nearby, and the steadily growing population of Goose Creek. In 1918 it was found necessary to change from one to two regular meetings every month, to facilitate the work. The regular meetings are now held at 8 o’clock p.m. on the fist and third Saturdays of every month. The Lodge, too, has been very fortunate during these lest busy years in having had able and willing officers to attend to the work, often at no small cost to their own material interest. This is particularly true of the retiring Master, Bro. P.S. Russell, and of the present Master, Bro. John G. Martin.
Two of the Charter members, Henry Hamlin and Lewis Woodward are never mentioned in our records after the Lodge was organized. Diligent inquiries among the oldest living people of the community have failed to reveal who they were, or what became of them.
The building in which the Lodge had its home for the fist five years of its existence, was situated just above where Kilgore’s shipyard is now located, on the east bank of Cedar Bayou.
During the fifty years of the existence of the Lodge, only two of its members have been tried for un-masonic conduct. One trial resulted in a reprimand for the offender, the other , suspension for a few months.
The building we now occupy was begun in the autumn of 1875, and finished in May, 1876. It is 60 feet by 30feet, and two stories in height. The upper story is used for Masonic purposes. The lower story was donated to the community for a public school, and was so used for nearly forty years.
Since 1920, Cedar Bayou Lodge has made great strides in improvements of building, growth in lodge membership, and growth in the city’s population. This decade saw the beginning of another lodge in our city. The Goose Creek Lodge 1192, of which Cedar Bayou was the mother lodge, was established. Cedar Bayou Lodge had housed the Kennedy Commandre since it was moved from Kennedy, Texas. When the Goose Creek Lodge was established, the Kennedy Commandre was moved to Goose Creek.
Cedar Bayou Lodge had a very hard time toward the latter part of the decade as did the rest of the country. The depression came and money was very scarce. Some of our members as well as some throughout the state were suspended because of non-payment of dues. These hard times continued into the early 1930’s.
The 30’s brought better times for the lodge, the city, and the nation. The lodge changed its heating system from wood to gas. The lighting system was changed from a crankup gas powered light plant to our electric system presently in use. The old crank up plant was located in the front of the lodge. The change of these two utilities was a great help.
The next decade, the 1940’s, brought still more prosperity to our lodge. One of the first things accomplished was the institution of our present Rainbow Assembly. It was instituted April 29, 1941, and was constituted January 10, 1942, as number 117. The Cedar Bayou Chapter No. 11, Order of the Eastern Star was the sponsoring Organization. Our lodge had many petitions during this decade.
World War II began in 1941. The following members served their country:
D. E. Abbe, A. L. Ginn, O. A. Spainer, W. A. Barber, M. A. Hulme, R. W. Terry, W. E. Baumback, W. T. Hulme, Jr., L. B. Tarverso (EA), W. H. Bridges, T. C. Kadel, W. A. Traverso, W. H. Caudle, J. R. Martin,
D. E. Williams, W. L. Erwin, F. S. Parker, G. H. Winfreee, J. P. Garrett, R. J. Rector, & P. Woods
We were fortunate that we did not lose anyone in the war, but Brother R. J. Rector died from food poisoning in the Solomon Islands. He was given a Masonic Burial in the Islands and the California Burial Service was used. Later Brother Rector was returned home and given another Masonic Burial in Nacogdoches. This was done with the consent of the Grand Master, Horace K. Jackson.
The Humble Oil Refinery, which had been established in 1919, was continuing to build and expand. It had become one of the world’s largest refineries. Also during this time, just two years after World War II, 1947, the three cities of Baytown, Pelly, and Goose Creek consolidated into the present city of Baytown. The year following consolidation, 1948, our lodge was honored to have one of our past masters appointed to the position of District Deputy Grand Master of the 30th district. S. P. Larkins was our first District Deputy Grand Master in our seventy eighth year.
The 1950’s were good years for our lodge. Many petitions were still being received and the lodge started improvements in the building. A new foundation and a new slate roof were supplied in 1953. The O.E.S. purchased chairs for the upstairs as one of their projects. The upstairs walls were covered with cello-tex sheets and the ceiling was redone with cello-tex squares. Our present kitchen was built; before this time, only a hot plate was used for cooking. All of the work was done by members donating their time and energy.
The Cedar Bayou Lodge and Goose Creek Lodge had joint installations until the Baytown Lodge No. 1357 received its charter in 1955. This new lodge was housed in the Goose Creek Lodge building until 1968 when it moved to Cedar Bayou and it is now sharing our building. 1n 1955, the 30th Masonic District was divided into three parts/ A, B, and C.
The 1960’s brought still more prosperity to our beloved lodge. The banquet room was paneled and the ceiling was lowered thirty inches. This room was centrally air conditioned and heated by a yearly project of the4 O.E.S. The window units that had been upstairs were moved down to the banquet room.
A great honor was bestowed upon our lodge with the appointment of our second District deputy Grand Master. W.P. Lamb was appointed in 1966 as District Deputy Grand Master of District 30-A.
Each March since 1950, our lodge has sponsored Public School Week which the Governor of Texas proclaims each year.
The lodge has continued two things since our first fifty years history. First the meeting dates have remained the first and third Saturdays of the month, but the time has been changed from 8:00P.M. to 7:30 P.M. Secondly, we have continued our annual picnic which is still enjoyed by our families and visiting brethren.
As the lodge approaches its 100thbirthday, we have many thanks to give. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to our Order of the Eastern Star Chapter, our Rainbow Assembly, and all of our members who have given of their time and talents to make our lodge as wonderful as it is today.
We have had good times and hard times, but have been able to survive because of our members love and faithfulness. We have lost many brothers to the archives of our illustrious history, and we had several brothers who received 50 year pins. Another source of pride for our lodge has been the many faithful brothers who have been proficient enough to be holders of certificates.
Since 1888 our lodge has had a cemetery on the back portion of our property. This cemetery has been self supporting since its beginning. We as lodge members take much pride in it because many wonderful memories of our deceased brothers and families are buried there. The cemetery committee has done a splendid job in seeing that the cemetery has perpetual care.
After several weeks of planning, working, and purchasing, the week of the centennial celebration was finally at hand. Preparations were being made for 1,500 people. 670 lbs of beef, 100 chickens, and 100 lbs of sausage were barbequed. Three hundred pounds of potatoes were used for potato salad.
All available people were working. The brethren worked diligently from Monday through Friday of the week of June 8-12. The Eastern Star Ladies helped serve the food, furnished the cakes, and decorated the stage and head table. The DeMolay boys assisted the ladies by serving the drinks and cleaning up. The Rainbow Girls registered the guests.
The day of Saturday, June 13thdid finally dawn with the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Hal Burnett, arriving at the Holiday Inn where the marquee was set up in bold letters proclaiming his arrival. The Grand Master and his wife, Rachel arrived at the school escorted by our two Past District Deputy Grand Masters, S.P. Larkins and W.P. Lamb. Our photographers, Jerri and W.A. Read, were on the spot snapping pictures of the arrival. Jack W. Fowler, our Master of Ceremonies, and wife, Rose presented Mrs. Burnett with an orchid.
With the Grand Master’s appearance in the cafeteria, the head table was quickly filled with the dignitaries that represented the Grand Lodge and various districts. Grace was offered by Brother Paul Harriss, one of our District Deputy Grand Masters. Dinner was then served to some 1,200 or 1,300 people. After the dinner, a program was held in the auditorium. The music furnished by Leo Raley and his band entertained the guests until everyone had finished eating and had been seated.
Billy Paul Fowler, Secretary, gave the invocation. Then the Master of Ceremonies, Jack W. Fowler, introduced T.E Rankin Jr., Master for 69-70, who in turn introduced all of the visiting celebrities and lodge officers. Francis V. Portis, Senior Warden, presented a resume of the history of Cedar Bayou Lodge 321 and presented Brother Burnett with a commemorative centennial plate, after which the Kingdomaires sang several selections.
A fifty year pin was presented to Brother R.H. Bierman by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Hal Burnett. Then Brother Burnett gave an inspiring talk, “The Six Creations.” Brother Harriss gave the Benediction and the guest were then invited to tour the lodge building where souvenir ash trays were given to all Masons and refreshments were served. This ended not only a wonderful day of fellowship but also a century of living Masonry.