A Comedic Visit to the Hill Country

Recently, I visited my dear friend and mentor, Brother Don Comedy, who lives in(is?) the heart of Texas Hill Country. Brother Comedy is a man of many talents. I often like to tell people that his wildlife photography is so good that you feel closer to a deer by looking at one of his photos than you would by feeding one out of your own hand(which is not an unlikely occurrence when spending time with Don Comedy). He afforded me the opportunity to explore the magnificent Llano Lodge building, and together with a couple of newer Masons, Robert Schooler and Kevin Stewart, we headed on down to a stated meeting of Blazing Star Lodge in Marble Falls which has become my home lodge away from home over the years as I live part-time on a nearby lake.

Historic Mt Horeb

On my way from Waco, I stopped in at Mt. Horeb Lodge’s current location in Mahomet. I have long maintained a tradition while traveling across the United States or beyond to pay at least a brief visit to regional mother lodges and in this part of Texas Hill Country, that is Mt Horeb. Originally located just a little further south in the once promising town of Gabriel Mills, Mt Horeb’s history excites my curiosity. All that is left of Gabriel Mills today is the lodge’s old masonic cemetery which was given to the community. Much of Gabriel Mills was absorbed by the nearby town of Liberty Hill. The father of the lodge was Texas pioneer and Scotch-Anglo immigrant Samuel Mather who donated 25 acres upon the lodge’s creation in the 1850s. In 1976, the cabin Mather originally provided for the lodge to share with a community school was reconstructed using original material. Recently, it was moved to Old Settlers Park of Round Rock so that the public can more easily appreciate it. Apparently, the old cabin was considered something of an artistic display in the early days because several extant articles refer to its beauty, square notch ends, and the care with which it was constructed. One article mentions it was “so perfectly fitted that nothing was used to fasten the logs together other than the notches.” Indeed, when reconstruction began, no nails were found.

Mt Horeb’s current building is an actual blue lodge

Mather owned a grist mill(for which the town of Gabriel Mills was named) and the region’s first blacksmith shop where everyone from settlers to legendary Comanche Yellow Wolf were known to be regular patrons. Mather’s devotion to the Craft and his selfless efforts for central Texas communities did not go unnoticed as in 1863, Mather became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. His son, Andrew Mather, gained his own fame as a Texas Ranger and friend of Buffalo Bill Cody. Many other important settlers were also charter members of Mt Horeb Lodge. Today, it is housed in a charming, blue brick building with a striking sign right on the county road.

 

Llano’s Amazing Masonic Hall

 

Upon reaching Llano, Bro. Comedy and I went over to Llano Lodge to examine its historic edifice. For a Masonic historian, this lodge makes a delightful destination. From an original Magic Lantern to well-maintained hardwood fixtures, Llano Lodge leaves an impression. It stands right in the heart of the town’s activities, across the street from the courthouse. Directly in front of Llano Lodge is a memorial sculpture to local men who died in WWI and WWII. Llano Lodge was organized in 1860 on Comanche Creek down near the present-day community of Click and met there in a simple cypress wood shanty for its first year or two. A watercolor depiction of that old place hangs in the North of the Llano Lodgeroom. It is likely that the lodge met there because several of the charter members were successfully finding gold in and around Comanche Creek.

Llano Lodge’s first building on Comanche Creek

 

On October 19, 1861, the lodge moved to the town of Llano because the members grew tired and weary of navigating the terrain to the old locale via horseback. For many years, lodge met in a downtown Llano tavern owned by pioneer “Miss Haynie.” Then, the lodge met in the second floor of Llano’s oldest commercial building which was erected in 1880 and still stands at 115 West Main Street. In 1906, the lodge finished fundraising and began construction on its own marvelous structure on the southeast corner of the square. Mainly consisting of sandstone, it is trimmed with local granite and stretches 40 feet by 140 feet. The first meeting there was held on January 30, 1909. Thirty new members were initiated during the building’s first month of use. Two grey granite columns stand in the front of the building measuring 16” in diameter. As though it were an homage to the 1800s, the first floor of the lodge is currently used by the courthouse as an annex and the upper floor houses all of the lodge’s needs. Llano’s first worshipful master was Charles Haynes, a Vermont

Apron and Sash of San Jacinto Veteran Charles Haynes

native who moved to Texas in 1836, enlisted in the Texas Army, and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Today, you can see his apron and sash as you pass through the vestibule towards the Lodgeroom. No words can describe the beauty that has been preserved within the Llano Lodgeroom and my photographs hardly do it justice so make a point to go and see it yourself! Worth noting: there has been a running joke about the Three Degrees of Waco 92 and how I can link our lodge to pretty much any notable figure or event in history within three points of connection or less. True to form, I was delighted when Bro. Comedy picked up an old journal in Llano Lodge’s library and opened it right up to a page with a photograph of Waco 92’s officers in 1952.

Operative Masonry Along the Way

After poking around Llano Lodge, I walked past the Courthouse and over to the Roy B. Inks Bridge where I sat and had lunch while enjoying a view of the Llano River. Of course, the drive from there to Marble Falls took us right by Granite Mountain, where Scottish immigrants cut and squared the stones that were used for the State Capitol Building in Austin.

 

Llano Lodge

A view from the Altar

Masonic Art 

Hanging in the vestibule

Commandery Lectern

 

Llano Lodge

From the West

Llano Lodge

Approaching the East

Magic Lantern Slides

Held by the Comedy

Commandery Slide

 

Llano Lodge

The Ceiling

Waco 92 Article

Found, by chance, in Llano Lodge library

A View of the Llano River

Just a short walk from Llano Lodge

Awards Night at Blazing Star Lodge

Our caravan arrived at Marble Falls’ Blazing Star Lodge about 6:00 pm, just in time for a fantastic supper provided by the legendary Bluebonnet Cafe(now you know why Blazing Star is my home away from home). An open meeting was held and a sizable group gathered to honor Brother Perry Farley for reaching the 40 year mark in his Masonic career. Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master Frank Smith made the presentation and did a fine job. Bro. Farley thanked his wife Annette whom he described as his “partner through the Masonic journey.” Various attendees shared fond memories of Bro. Farley’s active service with the Lodge.

Sam Stacks after receiving Scouter Award

Then, the Worshipful Master was caught by surprise as the rest of the officers announced the presentation to him of the Daniel Carter Beard scouting award. This prestigious award is given to Brother Masons for years of service to the Boy Scouts and I can tell you personally that Bro. Stacks certainly qualifies. I have been to Blazing Star many times over the past several years and I have rarely seen Stacks wearing something other than his Scouting uniform because he is often on double duty! Brother Stacks has been a Scout Master of Troop 284 since 2010. Following the awards, the usual business of the lodge took place. Then, I returned into the Hill Country with Bros. Comedy, Schooler, and Stewart for an evening of Masonic lessons and general discussion on all things life. As is the case any time I am around Bro. Comedy, I came away from the visit feeling as though I had somehow packed a year’s worth of learning into one evening. Though I have met many people through Freemasonry, few have exhibited toward me the level of fellowship, wisdom, and sincerity as Don Comedy has since the very first night I met him several years ago.

And thus concluded a single day among brethren with stops at three lodges. Should you ever get down this way, you simply must stop by to see at least one of these lodges and meet the brothers there. If you ask the right questions, you just might get an opportunity to meet a permanently poised rattlesnake! Either way, you will enjoy yourself with the Masons in this area. Let there be no doubt: Masonry is alive and well in Texas Hill Country.

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