The Birth of Waco 92
The first meeting of masons in Waco was held before it was a city. In January of 1851, there was a two-story log structure on Bridge Street owned by William B. Walker and James Toole. This was the only two story building in Waco for several years and served as our meeting place for our first five years. At that initial meeting, those assembled decided to petition Springfield Lodge No. 74 in Springfield about fifty miles east of Waco. In keeping with Masonic custom, these first Wacoans were seeking sanction from the nearest pre-existing lodge as a first step to formally being recognized by the Grand Lodge of Texas. The names on the petition: N.W. Battle, Claiborne Varner, Robert S. Hulme, William B. Walker, John R. Harris, George B. Erath, and George W. Edwards with Hulme, Walker, and Varner listed as Worshipful Master elect, Senior Warden elect, and Junior Warden elect respectively.
Springfield Lodge approved the petition on February 11, 1851 and passed it on to the Grand Lodge in Houston where dispensation was granted on August 1, 1851. The charter was signed Grand Master W.B. Ochiltree and Grand Secretary A.J. Ruthven. At that time, our name was Bosque Lodge, in recognition of the thick forests surrounding Waco Village, and so it remained until Joseph Speight convinced the brothers to change our name to Waco a few years later.
The first recorded meeting of our lodge was on December 27, 1851 with members from the above list serving as officers. J.W. Nowlin was our first Secretary in that report. George Erath was our first Treasurer and George W. Edwards was our Tiler. The report also shows a total of eight Master Masons, four Entered Apprentices, and three Fellow Crafts present. We do know that Shapley Ross was initiated at Waco Lodge that year so he was probably one of the Apprentices or Fellow Crafts left unnamed.
A full year after the first exploratory meeting to create a masonic lodge for the Waco community, our charter arrived on January 23, 1852. Thus, it is this date we have celebrated as our anniversary ever since. The names signed to our charter are below and those for whom we have information can be clicked so you can learn more about them.
W.W. Crawford(for whom the town Crawford and our offspring lodge, Crawford 585, were later named)
Lamenton W. Cato(early Harris County Judge)
S. Cottrell (moved to Dallas and was killed by an unknown man via shotgun in March 1859)
J.A. McMillin(first mayor of Waco in 1856, also Texas Ranger)
E.J. Gurley(Colonel, 30th Regiment of Texas in Civil War)
J.C. Illingsworth (moved to Austin some time after 1855)
William T. Smith(Civil War veteran and possibly San Jacinto)