Saturday, April 14, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 15

Littleton Fowler Appointed Chaplain of Grand Lodge of Texas  April 16, 1838

After they won their independence from Mexico, Texians turned their attention to creating the institutions of a free and independent people.  Naturally they placed a high priority on governmental and religious institutions.  They also created fraternal organizations, most importantly Freemasonry.   On April 16, 1838, members of the three lodges in Texas (Houston, San Augustine, and Nacogdoches) met in the Senate Chambers in Houston as the Grand Lodge of Texas.  Littleton Fowler, Methodist missionary and Chaplain of the Senate, was appointed Chaplain of the Grand Ledge. 

Leadership in government, church, and lodge often interlocked.  All of the Republic of Texas Presidents, Vice-Presidents, and Secretaries of State were Masons.   While Fowler was Chaplain of the Grand Lodge, he was also Chaplain of the Senate of the Republic.  His Methodist preacher colleague, Henry Matthews, is also listed as a Mason, as were politicians such as T. J. Rusk with whom Fowler enjoyed a friendship.  When Methodists began erecting church buildings, they often employed Masonic rituals in the laying of the cornerstones as occurred in San Augustine on Jan. 7, 1838.

Masons and Methodists shared facilities.  Methodist pastor Schuyler Hoes organized the Texas Chapter of the American Bible Society at the Houston Lodge in November, 1838.  San Felipe UMC is an existing example of even closer sharing of facilities.  The church occupied the first floor and the Lodge occupied the second. 

One of the main activities of Masons in the era was providing assistance to widows and orphans of brother Masons.  Only eight years after being named Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Littleton Fowler died.  Here is an excerpt from the letter the Masons of Marshall Lodge #22 sent to his widow

Be assured, dear madam, that the Masonic Fraternity are ready not only to offer words of consolation but more substantial aid if necessary.  

The Lodge in Hemphill carries on the tradition.  It is named Littleton Fowler Lodge #305


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