Fannin County, Texas

Article from the Fort Worth Daily Gazette, October 17, 1890


Leonard's New Masonic Building Started With Imposing Ceremonies


Special to the Gazette.


Leonard, Tex., Oct. 16.  The cornerstone of the Masonic temple was laid here to-day with imposing ceremonies.


Contrary to all expectations and surmises of yesterday the sun came up this morning in all its splendor, and never did its shining accommodate the people of Leonard more for they had prepared accommodations to meet all demands.  On the 9 o'clock south-bound passenger the Whitewright Masonic lodge and silver cornet band arrived and were at once escorted to the lodge hall.  The north-bound passenger brought a portion of the Greenville and Kingston lodges.  The procession formed at the lodge hall and headed by the band the line of march was directed from there to the northwest corner of the square, thence north along Parmice street to Cemetery street, thence east to North Main, thence south along Main back to the square, and thence across to the west side, where the usual corner stone ceremonies were conducted.  A flowery and able oration was addressed to the people by Dr. Woodson.  His remarks were very profuse in regard to the virtues of the Masonic order.  Rev. R. S. Garsline was then introduced by grand Master J. M. Smith.  He spoke only a few words, telling the people that the secrets of Masonry were only in the initiation, and that its principles were as broad as the truths of the Bible.


Dinner was then served.  Two long tables were set in the yet unoccupied brick building of Thomas & Wilson.  The dinner was the most successful part of the whole ceremony, and fully 600 people partook of this and still the supply seemed inexhaustible.  The corner-stone is of blue marble, and on the face is engraved: "Grove Hill Lodge, No. 393; chartered, A. D. 1873, A. L. 3873, to R. P. Baker, W. M.; Jas. M. Smith, Sr. W.; B. C. Loven, Jr. W.; Leonard, arch chapter, chartered, A. D. 1889, December 1, to G. G. Kemper, H.P.; J. A. Stone, king; G. W. Curd, scribe."


A tin box was deposited in the stone containing a large number of articles, among which were a Bible, presented by Miss Mattie Thomas and deposited by the lodge, a copy of the Masonic constitution and by-laws, a copy of the Farmers' Alliance constitution and by-laws, a copy of the Leonard Graphic deposited by Albert Erwin, a copy of the Leonard academy catalogue and other things too numerous to mention.  Everybody expressed themselves, especially the visitors, as highly entertained.  The crowds were late dispersing.


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The photo above shows the Grove Hill Masonic Lodge building constructed in 1890 on the east side of the Leonard square.   It burned in 1908.


The picture below is of the replacement building constructed in 1911 which still stands.  The Lodge met upstairs and leased the lower floor. The photo below was taken about 1914.  


Thanks to Steve Coker for the photos and the information.

Grove Hill Lodge No. 373, A.F. & A.M.


In 1872, fifteen Master Masons of Southwest Fannin County petitioned the Grand Lodge of Texas for a charter for a Masonic Lodge in the Grove Hill community of Fannin County.  Those petitioning were R. P. Baker, Burwell Cox, W. R. Doss, I. A. Gober, James M. Groves, Edward Groves, J. N. B. Henslee, J. H. Hudpeth, B. C. Loving, T. S. Ross, George M. Smith, James M. Smith, J. R. Stanfield and W. H. Yates.


A dispensation was granted by the Grand Lodge of Texas and J. N. B. Henslee was appointed worshipful master.  The postoffice address of the lodge was Oak Hill, Texas.


The lodge was granted a charter June 9, 1873.  The first worshipful master under the new charter was R. L. Baker, who serbed on eyar.  He was succeeded by James M. Smith who served eight years as worshipful master.  In 1876, the lodge had 33 members.


In 1882, the lodge moved to the new town of Leonard.  The lodge kept the Grove Hill name.  Its lodge hall was the second floor of the Leonard city hall building, in the center of the town square.  Grand Lodge records showed the lodge with 41 members.


The lodge, in 1890, built a new lodge hall.  A stock company was organized.  The lodge took stock to the amount of $280.66; Leonard Royle Arch Chapter the amount of $709.30.  The following members each took $100 of stock: A. L. Melton, J. A. Stone, C. H. Royals, J. A. Saxon, Rotan and Owens, J. M. Hickman, M. L. Franklin, E. B. Howell, C. G. Kemper, M. F. Childers, G. R. Grider, W. S. Farmer, W. W. Yates, J. O. Kuyrkendall, Henry C. Powell, I. A. Gober, B. R. McQuade, Jesse Allbright and A. J. Grantham.  The total amount subscribed was $2839.96.  The lodge then borrowed $2000 from J. C. Clymer.


The building, the first two story brick in Leonard, was built on the the northwest corner of the square.  O. A. Reich was the contractor.  The final payment on the building was made May 10, 1897.  J. H. Hunter was worshipful master of the lodge when the building was built.  The building burned in March, 1908.


On March 5, 1910, Worshipful Master J. A. Craft announced that $4850 had been raised for a new building.  This amount not being sufficient to erect the building as per plans, a motion was passed to borrow enough to complete the building according to plan.


When the lodge moved into the second floor of its new building, in 1910, there were 83 members.  The membership reached a high of 205 members in 1923.  It declined to a low of 44 members during the depression.  It is now 99 [1982].


On June 9, 1973, the lodge celebrated its one hundreth year, with Joe T. Morrow the speaker for the occasion.  Bobby Burchfield served as worshipful master of the lodge the first year of its second century.


The lodge refurbished the first floor of the building and moved into it, and dedicated the new lodge hall on October 14, 1975, with Joe T. Morrow making the dedicatory address.  C. D. Jones was worshipful master.


The present officers [1982] are: Billy Harold Davis, worshipful master; Joe C. Murley, senior warden; Larry Tucker, junior warden; Garvis Buchanan, treasurer; Tom Hymer, secretary; C. D. Jones, chaplin; Robert Nash, senior deacon; Glenn Edwards, junior deacon; Robert E. Sheridan, senior steward; W. E. Lewis, junior steward; and T. H. Hurst, tiler.

Marker Text:


Chartered in 1873 with fifteen members, this Masonic Lodge was organized in the Grove Hill Community (3.5 mi. NE).  The first meetinghouse was constructed there on property purchased in conjunction with the Grove Hill School District, which used the facility for classes.  The Lodge moved to Leonard in 1882, shortly after the town was founded.  Meetings were conducted in the City Hall until a separate Lodge hall was built on the square in 1890.  Other buildings later served the Lodge, which has included many prominent leaders of Grove Hill and Leonard.


Location:  This marker was not located in March 2014.

Grove Hill Masonic Lodge