Peculiar Roots: The Origin of Scottish Rite Masonry in North-West Texas and the legends that built it By Jason Lynn Jones 32°

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In 2017 we celebrated the One Hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Scottish Rite Masonry in Texas and the birth of our Mother Consistory on Galveston Island. With this celebration we also welcomed our new Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Texas, Illustrious Mike Wiggins 33rd.  Fifty years have passed since Sovereign Grand Inspector General; Illustrious Lee Lockwood compiled the publication entitled The First Century of Scottish Rite Masonry in Texas, (1867-1967), in which the growth of the Rite is covered from the first mediocre Lodge of Perfection to arise on Galveston Island led by General Phillip C. Tucker to the prosperous Orient of seven Valleys.[1] Sense the publication of this piece the Orient has continued to grow and prosper and arguably remains one of the strongest Masonic bodies in the state. Of the many accomplishments in Scottish Rite Masonry in the fifty years since the publication, the establishment of an eighth Valley in the Texas Panhandle is arguably the most impressive.[2] While the establishment of the Valley of Lubbock and the Masonic legends that made their dream reality is an impressive story, the roots of Scottish Rite Masonry in the region run much deeper than that. I would argue that the Texas Panhandle has intrigued the interest of some of the most influential Masonic brethren throughout history and their legend has left profound influence on Scottish Rite Masonry in the region.

            To study the roots of early West Texas Masonry, I believe it necessary to examine the draw of the New Mexico Territory to numerous expeditions to the desert southwest by pioneers, fur traders and trappers. One can only speculate to the Masonic seeds these men may have planted during their expedition, unfortunately any sort of Masonic records that may have existed from this time would have long sense blown away like dust in the West Texas wind. One thing we know for sure, the untamed lands of the High Plains and the opportunities that await there have peaked the interest of adventure seeking men and pioneers for over a century. This list of explorers includes Grand Commander Albert Pike and Dr. John H. Robinson. Although there was more than likely other Masons in the area, the expeditions to the New Mexico Territory pre-date the establishment of any formal Masonic Lodge by decades which further adds to difficulty of tracing any kind of Masonic influence these brothers may have left behind.

            Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike is not only the most influential Scottish Rite Mason in history, but arguably left a tremendous impact on Masonry as a whole. In 1831, Albert Pike would begin a journey to Independence, Missouri seeking adventure and a change from the New England lifestyle. From Missouri Pike and Dr. Robinson would join a hunting party to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Which would lead the group through the northern Texas Panhandle.[3] The Journey to Santa Fe would become quiet treacherous and filled with unfortunate events, including his hoarse escaping and a devastating snow storm that would cause him to walk over five hundred miles to Taos, New Mexico.3 Pike left the place he referred to as the “city of mud” in 1832 on a trapping adventure on the Llano Estacado near present day Lubbock.3 It would be pure speculation to state definitively that Pike made any type of Masonic influence during his time in this area. However, Masonic roots of the Texas Panhandle run incredibly deep, Lubbock saw the Chartering of its first Masonic Lodge before the town was incorporated as a city. A biography of Pike remarks that “He found Freemasonry in a log cabin and left it in a temple…”,[4] one can only imagine what kind of Masonic influence this brother could have possibly left behind on the plains of Northwest Texas.

            Lack of population, hostile Indians and dispute of international boundaries would hinder the development of formal established Masonry in this area for quite some time. However, Pike’s interest in the area would continue to draw him back to West Texas, when in 1883 as Sovereign Grand Commander he would grant authority to open a Lodge of Perfection in El Paso.1 Grand Commander Pike would visit the El Paso Lodge of Perfection 11 April 1883 and would leave behind mementos for the Lodge during this visit.1 El Paso would be the most logical place to open a Lodge of Perfection at the time; it was a more populated area at the time due to an Army outpost in the city. Unfortunately, the Lodge of Perfection would be short lived because the Army would close the outpost in 1885, and remain closed until 1905.1 In his second journey to West Texas, Pike would again journey across the rolling plains of the Texas Panhandle, while still much less developed than El Paso the area around the Llano Estacada had seen considerable growth sense his first expedition half a century earlier.

            Throughout his life Albert Pike made two journeys through the Texas Panhandle, he arguably took great interest in the region and found company he enjoyed and shared his Masonic knowledge with. We will never know what type of impact he could have made on the Masonry in the Texas Panhandle, or if his legacy was any sort of motivation to the brothers that would establish the Valley of Lubbock almost a century later. If this story serves no other purpose, it should provide insight to the type of man drawn to this land, the Mason we should all remember and strive to be.

 

Notes

[1] Lockwood, Robert Lee, comp. The First Century of Scottish Rite Masonry in Texas, 1867-

1967 . Edited by James David Carter. Waco, Tx, 1967.

[2] Vinson, Beverly . “History of the Lubbock Valley” . Lubbock Scottish Rite Bodies Website.

http://lubbockscottishrite.org/wordpress/?page_id=100

[3] Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, “Pike, Albert,” accessed December 18,

2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpi18.

[4] “Albert Pike.” Masonicdictionary. Com Website.

http://www.masonicdictionary.com/pike2.html

 

Portland Valley 20th° Conferral

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Tuesday the 16th of January, at 7:30 o’clock pm, the Portland Valley Scottish Rite will confer the 20th Degree of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, “Master of the Symbolic Lodge”.

All Scottish Rite Members of the 19th° or higher are welcome to attend. Visiting Brethren will need current dues card showing membership in the Scottish Rite. Attendance is exclusively for members of the Scottish Rite, as with all of our events, this is not open to the public.

The Duties of the Degree are; “Dispense Light and knowledge. Practice the Masonic virtues both in and out of Lodge.”
The Lesson of the Degree is; “Truth, justice and toleration areindispensable qualities for a Master of the Lodge. Example is the best teaching method known.”

Schedule
7:00 pm Dinner [Roast Chicken Mushroom Marsala]
7:30 pm Scottish Rite University Intro
7:45 pm Degree
After the degree there will be a cast party and Social in the Members Lounge.

Confirmations on Facebook of attendance will not be counted for dinner. Please RSVP by email to officemanager@portlandsr.com for dinner reservations by no later than 11:00 am on the Monday before the event. Any requests that come in after the cut off will go on the standby list.

Letter from Albert Pike to Rocky P. Earhart December 31, 1885 by Michael Robinson 32° KCCH

Pike 18755 Rocky P Earhart

Letter from Albert Pike to Rocky P. Earhart December 31, 1885

In the vault of the Portland Scottish Rite are a number of letters written by Albert Pike to members of the Orient of Oregon. Brother Pike’s writing is challenging to decipher, and after failing to discover what the first word of the letters was, I was not hopeful as to my success. However after some effort it was possible to translate his writing, except that aforementioned first word. That was solved by WB Dan Gray who quickly revealed that the word was Mortified. The letter comes after the Secretary General William Morton Ireland (1834-1892) had been sick for some time with pneumonia.

Ireland

Brother Ireland was Initiated in Union Lodge #121 in Philadelphia on January 10, 1856, and served as Master of that Lodge in 1862. Wm. Ireland rose through the ranks of the Scottish Rite receiving the KCCH on May 8, 1872, Inspector General Honorary May 5, 1874, receiving the Grand Cross the same day. He became an Active member of the Supreme Council and was crowned on October 18, 1882 and at that time elected General Secretary. He took up the Secretaries work, which had been mostly done by Pike in 1877, helping to relieve Pike’s burden, and was officially elected to that position as mentioned above.

 

Orient of Washington, 31st December, 1885
Brother Rocky P. Earhart, 33°
Inspector General in Oregon:
Dear Brother
Mortified and beyond measure disgusted and indignant I am compelled by duty to the order as well as to myself, to write you this letter.
The Secretary General has been sick since the 3rd instant, having had pneumonia. The physician has ceased with visiting him, and he sits up all day, he has not yet got down stairs.
Many letters addressed to me having failed to reach me, and since to embargo has been removed, these now have reached me being full of complaints of unaccountable neglect and delay in every way, on the part of Brother Ireland, with, in some cases, inclusion of myself in the censure, than have to explore the chaos of papers on his table and in an unlocked closet, and have found many letters addressed to him, some mailed as long ago he-
1 Pike 12-31-1885
[page 2]
___(missing corner of letter)___pened, and several in like condition, addressed to my-(self) __(missing)__ow where others to me are locked up unopened, in a drawer. I have found money in letters, many orders and drafts, not collected, and scattered about in various places.
Among other unopened letters, I found yours of 10th October last, delivered by carrier, 16th October, and your large registered package of 5th October, delivered 14th October. After several days had passed, I opened the letter last night, in the presence of Brothers Webber and MacGrotty, found your letter, the account stated by you, and the money order, $559.75. These I have placed in the hands of the Treasurer-General.
I cannot find your letter ordering patents for William Valentine Spencer. I have gone through the Register of Patents, to find data for 33° Patents for Brothers Christopher Taylor, John R. Foster, and F. N. Shurtliff, and can find none.
I can find no data for Ladies certificates for Mrs. Wygants, or her daughter, or for Brother Taylor’s relative, and there is nothing here to show were Brothers Henin, deLin, Colburn and Ackerman have applied for Patents. I send you blank slips to cover all the cases; and, if they are sent to me, registered, when filled up, (ther)e will be no delay, I assure you.
2 Pike 12-31-1885
[page 3]
(Irelan)d’s conduct is unacceptable ___(missing corner of letter)___ were he has been demitted for months __(missing)__ he has been devotedly paying attention to almost every evening, all this year, except while away, and who has been nursing him while he has been sick, been with him all day and evening for a month ending yesterday, and though he is sitting up all day, is still with him all day and until 9 in the evening. He seems to have neglected nearly everything: he has certainly not appropriated any money to his own use.
I see that you charge commissions on the money received for the 33° Degree. No commissions on such money’s have ever been allowed: and no account charging them can pass. The Statute giving commissions has never been considered to refer to any degrees except those that Deputies can confer, as well as Inspectors General.
So you will have to remit $112.50. I will insist on Ireland going over your accounts. If you order any thing for a time hereafter, you had better enclose the letter to the Secretary General in an envelope addressed to me, and register your letter.
I do not know what the result will be, when I hand he-
3 Pike 12-31-1885
[page 4]
___(missing corner of letter)__ have taken charge of, and _(missing)_ and my letters, ___(missing corner)___ps locked up. But there has to be a new Dispensation and order of things at all costs.
If you have written to me during the year, in respect to the answers spoken of herein, the letter or letters have been kept from coming to my hands.
Always truly and fraternally yours
Albert Pike 33°
Grand Commander
(PS) Does Bro. Shurtliff spell his name leff or liff?
Is there an s at the end of Wygant?
4 Pike 12-31-1885

About the author:

MDR Fall 2016

Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH, was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was elected Master in 2013 and 2014, and currently serves as Historian.  He is also Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11 and District Deputy of District #13. Brother Robinson was appointed Historian of the Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014. He was the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Portland Valley Scottish Rite in 2010, and the Hiram Award from Esoterika Lodge in 2012. In March of 2015 he was made Secretary of the Eugene Valley, and Director of the Work for that Valley in January of 2017.

Brother Vincent H. Richard, 32° Has Passed Away.

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Brethren,

The roll of the workmen has been called, and one Master Mason, Brother Vincent H. Richard, 32°, has not answered to his name. He has laid down the working tools of life and with them has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. His labors here below have taught him to divest his heart and conscience of the vices and superfluity of life, thereby fitting his mind as a living stone for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Strengthened in his labors here by faith in God, and confident of expectation of immortality, he has been granted admission to the Celestial Lodge above.

Vincent H. Richard, born Dec. 3, 1929, passed away at his home in Garibaldi, Ore., Nov. 15, 2017. Vince learned his machinist trade at Benson High School, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and worked up and down the west coast as a machinist in several industries. He married his wife, Linda in 1993 and moved to Garibaldi. He was active in the Masonic community. A funeral service with military honors was held Nov. 25, 2017. A graveside service was held at Riverview Cemetery in Portland, Nov. 27, 2017. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Shriners Hospital.

Brother Richard was a member of the Portland Valley Scottish Rite, Al Kadar Shrine, & Blue Lodge member of East Gate Lodge No. 155.

His obituary can be read at: http://obits.oregonlive.com/obituaries/oregon/obituary.aspx?pid=187307917

2017 vs 1957 by Walt Johnson 33°,G.C.

Double Headed Eagle

 

I’m speaking “Masonic” when I think about what has happened in the last 60 years with respect to finances. It is my opinion that we have failed to keep up with the times as we’ve experienced them. As an example, when I became a Master Mason the dues at the lodge were about $40.00 per year. A new home was about $30,000 and a new automobile was about $2,500. Now in 2017 that automobile sells for about $30,000, about 12 times the 1957 price and those dues I mentioned are only up about 3 to 4 times in the same period. The Masonic lodge and all the other concordant bodies have been subjected to the same pressures as all other entities. The difference is that most everyone yearly adjustments to stay up with those pressures.

The result as we are experiencing it today, is the Masonic and Masonic related organizations are suffering to the extent that some are being forced to sell their properties and then merge with others. Some of these units are doing much better mainly because of wills and bequests that have come their way in years past. It is my opinion that the heyday of generous wills and bequests is waning and will continue to do so.

There is no organization that I know of today that survives with their members paying from $6.00 to $12.00 per month which is close to the actual amounts being paid by us. It’s my observation that our members think little of going to a nice restaurant with their wife and spending at least $100 for dinner and libations. I’m not suggesting we stop going to a nice restaurant for dinner or stop doing anything else, but it is certainly time to examine our poor habits of supporting our Masonic activity. The bottom line of all this is that we should be paying something in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 per month for dues. Country clubs, social clubs and athletic clubs,

which many of us belong to, will cost from $100 to $600 per month. Compare the value we derive from our Masonic membership and the value received at other memberships. We are currently the custodians of the greatest fraternity in the world. One day the young men of today will have an opportunity to be the leaders and the success they will enjoy depends upon how and when we confront this problem.

154

Walt Johnson 33° Grand Cross, Executive Director for the Orient of Oregon.