James F. Taylor Lodge History
A sincere note of appreciation must go to Brother Dean McDowell who authored the book "The 150 Year History of James F. Taylor Masonic Lodge No. 169 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons." Most of the information on this page came from his book and is used by permission. Brother Dean, we are forever in your debt!
Chartered January 22, 1856 - a mere twenty years after the formation of the first Masonic Lodge in Texas, the James F. Taylor Lodge was chartered and is now over 160 years old.
The lodge was a vision of seven men in the Ash Springs area of East Texas who wished to have a lodge near their homes to perpetuate the ideals and strong moral teachings of the Masonic fraternity.
Who was James Francis Tayor? He was born February 25, 1812 in Mississippi and moved to Harrison County, Texas with his family and household goods in ox-drawn wagons where he began purchasing various tracts of land in the area.
He was a prominent member of the community and state, serving in the Texas State Legislature and Senate and was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate Army but was too old to serve on the front lines.
He was the first Worshipful Master of James F. Taylor Lodge #169 in January 1956. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1859 and was Grand High Priest of the Chapter (York Rite). He was also a member of Marshall Lodge #22 in Marshall.
James F. Taylor died of pneumonia on March 6, 1889 at his family home and is buried at the Marshall Cemetery in Marshall. An official state Masonic marker is placed on his grave site declaring that he was "Grand Master of Masons in Texas in 1859"
Lodge Beginnings - On February 6, 1855, William Smith, John Kennedy, Vince Davis, James F. Taylor, James Walker, William Thornton and John McReynolds signed a petition to be presented to the Grand Lodge of Texas for a Charter for a Masonic Lodge to be located in Ash Springs and to be named James F. Taylor Lodge. They also presented the same petition to the Marshall Lodge #22 on February 9 and proved they could confer all three Blue Lodge degrees.
Relocation to Hallsville - In March 1867, the Ash Springs Post Office was closed and reestablished in Hallsville. The Lodge met at Fort Crawford before relocating to Hallsville. During this time, plans were drawn to construct a building that would not only serve as a lodge hall but would also provide space for a school. A site was purchased in February of 1870 for the new lodge which is still the current location of the lodge, although we have a new building. They completed the two story building in December 1871 and was immediately used for lodge meetings and a public school.
The original cornerstone and drawings of the original building are available at the lodge.
Copies of Brother McDowell's book are available through the lodge and are also presented to all new Master Masons when they are raised in the James F. Taylor Lodge.