Humble Lodge History
By F. K. Wise, Charter Worshipful Master
DEDICATED TO THE MASTER, WARDENS AND BRETHREN OF
HUMBLE LODGE NO. 979, A. F. & A. M., BY F. K. WISE, PAST MASTER. 1938.
In the coming years, when the present membership of Humble Lodge No. 979, A. F. & A. M., shall have been called from labor to rest and from their nerveless grasp shall have forever dropped the working tools of life, that it may be of some interest to those who will be called to carry on thereafter, to know something of early masonry in Humble, Texas; and, too, it may also be of passing interest to the present younger membership of the Lodge.
It is with a spirit of brotherly love and interest in our lodge that the writer hereof will attempt to relate in a brief resume, some of the facts in connection with early masonry in Humble and the organization of Humble Lodge. If I shall have accomplished this, then I shall feel that I have accomplished my purpose and been amply rewarded for something worthwhile, and the only request that I make is that this be placed in the archives of the Lodge for future reference.
When I first came to Humble, in the early part of the year 1903, it was a small saw-mill town of not over ten white families living within a radius one-half mile of the Depot. There were only three master masons living within a radius often miles of Humble: Bro. Garrett Joy and son Walter Joy, who were living about two miles out in the country, and Bro. Reid Singleton, living about six miles out. These three brethren were all members of Sampson Lodge No. 321, located at Crosby, Texas. Humble at that time was under the Masonic jurisdiction of Sampson Lodge.
Some months after coming to Humble I had the pleasure of visiting Sampson Lodge, which met at ten o’clock in the fore noon, it was a stated meeting of the lodge and it had quite a lot of business, elected one Entered Apprentice, one Fellow Craft and one Master, and I took part in conferring all three degrees that day. A short time thereafter I placed my demit with that lodge, and at the next election of officers I was elected Senior Warden and served them one year; at the next election of officers, the brethren wanted to elect me master, but on account of being unable to attend the lodge regularly, I prevailed on them not to do so.
During the latter part of’ the year 1904, work started in the Humble Oil Field, the town-site was laid out, the town began to build up and people began pouring into Humble and the oil field rush was on. Masonic emblems became numerous. Other fraternal organizations were set to work, many of them, but no attempt had been made to organize a Masonic lodge.
Several petitions for degrees from Humble were going into Sampson Lodge, and were being accepted. Some time during the latter part of the year 1905 or early part of 1906, I sent out a request for all brother masons in the vicinity of Humble to meet on a certain night at a certain hall, which I had secured the use of for the meeting, and approximately 30 masons responded; I told them my purpose in requesting their presence, was to get better acquainted with each other and discuss the possibility of organizing a Masonic lodge in Humble.
they were all, with one accord, very much in favor of the idea and wanted me to loose no time in getting started, I told them the undertaking was not one man’s job by any means, and that it would require no less than twenty demitted master masons to sign a petition for a dispensation to organize, and asked how many demitted masons were present that would join in the petition, there were only three who held their demits and would join in the organization, those three were brother T.M. Jones, J.A. Davis and R.J. Hollyfield. I then asked how many were present that were willing to demit from their home lodge and come in with us, and there were only three or four responded, that did not look very encouraging, and no further attempt at organizing was made for the time being.
As stated before, several petitions for degrees had gone into Sampson Lodge and other petitions were being made for degrees, and I saw that in the course of time we were going to have enough resident members in Humble, with the few demitted ones, to have the required number, twenty.
But an other formidable obstacle confronted us, we had no secure place to meet, there was not a suitable hall or building that could be secured for a lodge room which was one of the required prerequisites to securing a dispensation and this had to be overcome before doing anything.
On day I was passing along the street and came upon Mr. R. S. Sterling, President of the Humble State Bank, standing on the street watching the brick masons running up to completing the walls off a one story building for the Humble State Bank, on the exact lot on which now stands the Masonic building, an idea struck me, I approached him rather abruptly and said, Mr. Sterling Would like to see you build an other story on that building, he instantly turned and asked why do you say that? I answered that we might rent it for a Masonic lodge room, he asked how much rent we could pay? I answered that 1 could not, at that time, promise any amount as we had no organization. He said that he was just thinking how insignificant that one story building would look for a bank building and said he would like to have another story on it. I saw that I had him interested. I told him we had not tried to organize a lodge for the reason we had no meeting place, but if we could get that room I thought we would have no trouble in organizing, and I thought we could pay about twenty dollars per month rent. I figured that each member would be willing to contribute one dollar per month on the rent until such time as the lodge would become self -sustaining, He told me he would take the matter up with his architect that night to see what it would cost, and if I would meet him the next morning he would give me a definite answer. According to promise, I met him and he assured me the second story would be built at once or if we wanted it he would give us the refusal of it, I told him it might be some time before we could give him a definite answer as there was considerable “Red Tape” to go through with before we could give him an answer, and he told me that was all right as he would hold it for us.
I then drew up a formal petition for a dispensation and got the required number of signatures. That petition had to be unanimously approved and indorsed by Sampson Lodge and all members who signed it had to be vouched for by that lodge. In order to do that it become necessary for members who had not sit in open lodge with other brethren, to visit Sampson Lodge and be vouched for by that lodge. I then rounded up and carried all of them over to the next stated meeting of Sampson Lodge for that purpose. Some friction then arose, one brother wanted to object to visitors sitting in the lodge that day, as he sensed what was coming up and he did not want Sampson Lodge to loose jurisdiction over Humble. Some argument ensued, but the visitors were permitted to seats in the meeting.
When our petition for dispensation was read, and the ballot was taken, which had to be a secret one, it was rejected, that caused considerable indignation, among the brethren, I then served notice on them that I would present the petition again at the next stated meeting of the lodge, which I did, and just before the ballot was to be taken, one brother asked to be excused from the lodge room, and the petition was unanimously approved, and forwarded to the Most Worshipful Grand Master, who very promptly, on the 14th. day of August, 1908, granted the dispensation, naming F.K.Wise, W.M, AJ. Smith, S.W. and E.LBruner, J.W., and the following named brethren as members of Humble Lodge, U.D., J.B.DuBose, N.A. Meyer, J.W. Beard, H.F, Bozarth, J.A. Davis, D.H. Cunningham, G.P. Epperson, T. M. Jones, R.L. Sharp, W.T. Dawson, LF. Patrick, J.S.Dickson, W.M. Black, RJ. Hollyfield, E.L. Blackman, J.S. Sutherland and Victor E. Gothie . On the 15th day of August, 1908, Brother Frank C. Jones, of Houston, Texas, acting as representative of the Grand Master,
set Humble Lodge, U. D., to work. We worked under that dispensation until the next convocation of the Grand Lodge, when we surrendered it. I carried all of our records up to the Grand Lodge for examination, those records were submitted to the committee on lodges U.D., that committee made a very favorable report, showing the records of our lodge to be regular and in good shape, well bound minute book, ledger and a small cash account to the credit of the lodge in the bank, and recommended that a Charter be granted to Humble Lodge No. 979, that report was adopted by the Grand
Body and the Charter granted December, 2nd. 1908, naming the three principal officers the same as previously named in dispensation, and on the 25th day of March, 1909, was regularly set to work again by brother F. C. Jones, D.D.G.M.
All was peace and harmony and Humble Lodge continued to grow and prosper, and in a few years had the reputation of being one of the best working lodges In the 30th Masonic district.
On the night of February the 12th 1912, fire destroyed our lodge room and all records, not a scratch of a pen left to show that we ever had a lodge, the only visible evidence in our possession, being the seal of the lodge which happened to be in my office at the time. It looked as though Humble Lodge might be doomed, the bank was not going to rebuild their building where it had been located, but were building a one story building on an other location, that deprived us of a lodge room, what were we to do? What could we do? We had a cash balance of only $300.00 in bank, and there was no available hall in Humble that we could use.
Mr. R S Sterling came to me and asked me what we were going to do for a lodge room? I told him it looked like we were up against a “brick wall”, that we were unable financially to rebuild and I supposed would demise. He proffered to sell us the lot on which now stands the Masonic building for $800.00 and loan us to the amount of $3500.00, for the lodge to rebuild with, this indebtedness to be acknowledged in the form of notes executed by the principal officers of the lodge and secured by deed of trust on the land and building. I told him that sounded mighty good to me, and I would talk to him again on his proposition after consulting with the members of the lodge. We then got an estimate from the contractors who were doing other buildings then under construction in Humble and we figured that it would cost the lodge approximately $5500.00 to rebuild. I then went to the Trustees of the Humble School and got permission from them to use the Auditorium Of the high school building to hold our meetings in temporally, but we first had to have a dispensation from the Grand Master before that was done. I then called the Grand Master, Sam P. Cochran, at Dallas by long distant phone, and explained to him our condition and asked him for permission to use the school building until such time as we could do better. I also explained to him that that was the date of our stated meeting and we would like to meet that night for a business meeting only, to discuss the possibility of rebuilding, to which he readily agreed and said he would forward his dispensation that day, which he did, so that night we discussed in general the proposition. I told the brethren that if we could raise as much as $2,000 among the members, I was in favor of accepting Mr. Sterling’s offer, and in a few minutes we had the desired amount promised and the money was paid in without delay, the lodge gave its notes to the members loaning their money, with the understanding same would be paid as soon as the lodge could do so.
At that meeting a building committee consisting of the following named brethren, J.B. DuBose, T.B. Couch, F.M. Burton, F.K. Wise and E.W. Corley, was appointed to supervise the construction of the building.
When the building was completed we rented the lower story for a period of two years at a stipulated price of $80.00 per month, the rent with the addition of the amount of fees and dues coming in enabled the lodge to meet all of its obligations and within five years it had paid off all indebtedness and then began to build up a nice bank account.
The $300.00 in bank, previously mentioned herein, was used for the purpose of purchasing Jewels, Furniture and Carpet for the lodge and by the constant practice of economy, the lodge was enabled to meet its obligations as stated herein. When the world war came on the lodge bought a $1.000.00 time Government Bond and a short time later donated that bond to the Aged Masons Home at Arlington, Texas. That donation put Humble Lodge “on the map”, so to speak, with the Grand Royal Arch Chapter, of Texas, which sponsors that home.
In closing this brief history of Humble Lodge, I might seem unmindful, were I not to add just a few brief words in memory of our lamented brother and past master, F.M. Burton, who passed away February the 23rd 1916. He was made a Mason in Humble Lodge, the dates of his initiation, passing and raising are not available on account of records having been destroyed by fire. He was elected Master of the lodge in 1912, and served one year with credit to himself and honor to the lodge. He was a zealous, diligent and untiring worker in the order. He was especially interested in our welfare and up building of the lodge. He was a strong believer in fraternalism and enjoyed the fellowship of his brethren, especially visitors. He held a certificate of proficiency in the esoteric work of the order. He was the first past master of our lodge to pass away. He was buried in the family Cemetery at Orange Texas with Masonic honors. A large circle of members of Humble Lodge and friends from Humble accompanied his remains to their last resting place.