By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Yesterday (Feb. 9) a historic event took place for New Braunfels Masonic Lodge No. 1109. The cornerstone leveling of a new lodge building at 1353 Wald Rd. took place. This is the fourth home for this lodge.
It is believed that the history of the Freemasons goes back in antiquity to the worker organizations formed into guilds of like trades, particularly the building trades. A group of members is called a lodge. Today members wear aprons that look like the working clothes of the old stonemasons. The term “free” possibly refers to the freedom to move without the restrictions of the feudal lords.
Although it is not a religious organization, nor does it take the place of religion, members must believe in a Higher Being. Freemasonry accepts worthy men and seeks to make good men better. Members work through degrees, the highest being the 33rd degree. Lodges support all good works, and believe in the equality of people, freedom, and democracy.
The first Grand Lodge was established on June 24, 1717, in London, England. The first Grand Master in America was appointed in 1730 by the Grand Lodge of England. Fourteen U.S. presidents were Freemasons, plus other Revolutionary notables, such as Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere. The cornerstone of the National Capitol was laid by Mason George Washington on Sept 18, 1793. The well-known painting of him wearing his Masonic apron was given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat fighting for the American cause.
Closer to home, the Grand Lodge of Texas was formed during the time of the Republic with Sam Houston presiding at the formation. This Grand Lodge set aside 10% of their revenues for free public education. The Texas Freemason charter was received during the Battle of San Jacinto.
With this impressive background, let us get to the history of NB Lodge #1109. Remember that before the Texas Revolution the area that we now call Comal County was in the larger district of Bexar. The Texas Legislature created Comal County in 1846 after Texas became a state. The first Masonic Lodge in Comal County was actually in Twin Sisters on Curry Creek. Then when the final boundaries for Comal County were set in 1858, the western section of Comal County, where the lodge was located, was separated and the lodge was then located in Blanco and Kendall counties. Twin Sisters Lodge #216 was eventually moved to the city of Blanco and named Blanco Lodge #216 where it still exists.
The second Comal County Masonic Lodge, #276, was chartered in 1864 and demised in 1874. Some well-known early leading citizens belonged to this lodge, a few of which were Hermann Seele, Ferdinand Lindheimer, George Pfeuffer, Louis Henne, J.J. Groos, Joseph Landa, John Torrey, and Joseph Faust.
In 1915 the third lodge ,#1109, was chartered and met at the carriage house next to the Jahn building on South Seguin Avenue(building no longer standing). Fourteen Master Masons asked for a charter and chose R.E. Kloepper the first Worshipful Master, J.E. Abrahams the first Senior Warden, and J.E. Herd the Junior Warden. Celebrating the formation of this lodge in 1916, more than 200 Masons from neighboring counties marched with local candidates and guests from the Jahn Building to where the ceremony was to take place in the Knoke building (where the former Eiband and Fischer store was located). Some visitors came by train, but the majority came in automobiles. After the ceremony, they went to Tolle Hall for roast pig and sweet potatoes.
Then in 1923 the lodge moved to the Albert Ludwig building on the corner of W. San Antonio St. and S. Castell Avenue (present site of Phoenix Saloon). Being a Mason, Ludwig built a third floor to his building and offered it to house the lodge. Notice that the third story does not cover the whole building.
Forty two years later, the lodge was moved to its building at 1157 W. San Anonio St. where it remained until the new lodge was purchased and dedicated yesterday. This building is also home of the New Braunfels Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and the New Braunfels Assembly of Rainbow Girls, affiliates of New Braunfels Masonic Lodge #1109.
Worshipful Master Riley Miller, who jokingly says that “real men do wear aprons”, invites all to come visit the lodge with its Museum and Library any Tuesday evening.