Robert S. Hulme
The Master Who Never Reached the East
Little is known about Robert Hulme but his place in the history of Waco 92 is worthy of mention. In fact, even Waco 92 largely forgot Hulme until recently. Hulme is believed to have been born in North Carolina circa 1801. During the mid-19th century, Waco Village was a rough but hopeful community. Hulme was charged with keeping peace amid that community as Mclennan County’s first sheriff, being elected to that office on August 5, 1850. With the little knowledge we do have about Hulme, this election is no surprise. He was an active Texas Ranger and may have served in the Texas Revolution. When Waco 92 petitioned for a charter, it was Hulme that was listed as the Worshipful Master Elect. He never served in that role and it seems that his health rapidly declined until an illness took his life during early March 1852. Still, we must note that in a 1851 letter of dispensation from Grand Master W. B. Ochiltree, we find: “…And I do hereby appoint Bro. Robt. S. Hulme to be the First Master, Bro. Wm. B. Walker to be the First Senior Warden, and Bro. Claiborne Varner to be the First Junior Warden, of said Lodge.”
Beyond that, we don’t know a heck of a lot about him. Census records suggest that Hulme
was born in North Carolina between 1798 and 1802. His father may have been George Hulme, a Revolutionary War veteran who was a sheriff in North Carolina and then in Tennessee where Robert may have grown up. It also might be that George was his uncle. Robert is thought to have been the son or nephew of a charter member of Hiram Lodge No. 7 in Franklin, Tennessee. Robert worked as a tailor. He also served in the Texas Rangers where he was recruited by the charismatic leader, Thomas Barron, another early and more well-known member of Waco 92. It was this group of Rangers that received orders in 1837 to build a fort on the Brazos near the friendly Huaco Indians. 1841 shows Robert Hulme on the list of Rangers fighting against Indians with Gage’s Nacogdoches Minutemen. In fact, Hulme may have fought alongside Barron during Texas Revolution. In 1835, Barron led a number of valiant Texans to fight under Sam Houston in a series of skirmishes as Houston retreated towards San Jacinto. It is believed that Barron returned home due to a family emergency but his men, among whom Hulme was likely numbered, arrived at San Jacinto shortly after Santa Ana’s surrender. Thereafter, Barron and Hulme fought against native Americans living throughout central Texas, a war that would not end for several decades. Without a doubt, Hulme was among the Rangers that established Fort Fisher at Waco’s future location in 1837. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame is at that spot today.
The 1850 Census shows Robert S. Hulme, aged 49 and working as a tailor, living at the Thomas Barron residence. There is a mention of Hulme in the early minutes of county meetings. With Judge John Eubank presiding in September of 1850, Robert S. Hulme “stands by to maintain law and order and lend dignity to the proceedings.” The purpose of the proceedings was to divide the county into precincts for the first time.
Though he never served as Worshipful Master of Waco 92, it shows a great deal of admiration on the part of our charter members that he was chosen to sit in the East during our first year of existence. His image may be lost to history but it is the opinion of your writer that there is probably a photo of him floating around in some dusty filing cabinet or some descendant’s closet in the Waco area. It would be a great success to locate such a photo and we would like to add it to the collection at the lodge.
The above obit suggests that Hulme may have been a member of Andrew Jackson Lodge #68 in Tennessee prior to coming to Texas. Fellow charter member William Walker handled Hulme’s estate following his untimely fate…