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Blanco Masonic Lodge #216

Prepared for Blanco Masonic Lodge Sesquicentennial Celebration
January 19, 2008 by Guy W. Anderson, PM, DDGM 50B 2000

Friends, Dignitaries, Brethren, Worshipful,
Right Worshipful and Most Worshipful Sirs:

I want to welcome you to the Sesquicentennial celebration of Blanco
Masonic Lodge #216, A.F. & A.M. this Saturday, January 19th, 2008
exactly 150 years to the day when the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge
of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons granted a Charter to
Twin Sisters Lodge #216 to operate at Hodge's Mill near the Curry
Creek in then northern Comal County. That same area is now in
Kendall County.

Now, let's reflect back and review just how rural the area was when
these, our predecessor Brothers worked to form this Lodge. When the
Texas Grand Lodge met in 1858, there was no Blanco County. There
was no Blanco County Courthouse, no U.S. Highway 281 or any of the
Farms to Market Roads as there were no automobiles.

Women did not have the right to vote. The Civil War as we now refer
to it had not begun. And all wars after that had yet to be dreamed of.
The site work on the pink granite building in Austin now known as the
Capital of the State of Texas had not begun.

There was no electricity, no plumbing, indoor or out. There was no real
law except to treat your neighbor as you wish he was to treat you and
to watch out for each other.

Horseback, a horse drawn buggy or being afoot was the transportation
mode. By 1856 several Masons in the area met and decided to apply to
have a Lodge in the northwestern part of Comal County. They decided
to meet at Hodge's Mill located on the Curry Creek. It took two years
of work and those Brothers voted to name the lodge Twin Sisters Lodge
after those nearby named hills.

The Grand Lodge authorized the Charter which was granted & became
effective this day in 1858 at the closing of the Grand Lodge. The first
Worshipful Master or President was Brother Neill Robison (spelled
according to his pen, but we believe his last name was Roberson)
who worked hard to organize and secure the Charter.

By February 1858 Blanco County was created and the citizens decided
to place the county seat in Blanco. By the end of 1860 the Lodge had
physically moved to Blanco County where it met by special arrangements
with the County Court on the second floor of the newly completed Blanco
County Courthouse. Looking at demographics, according to the 1850
United States Census there were but 80 counties in Texas.

Comal County reported approximately 836 adults. Interestingly, New
Braunfels had an adult population of 606 adults leaving a total adult
population in "rural" Comal County of 236. That same Census indicated
the 3rd largest Texas town as Houston with a total population of 1,863
followed in 2nd by San Antonio with 3,252 and then the largest town
being Galveston with a population of 3,469.

Texas population totaled 212,592 including 58,161 identified as slaves.
By the 1860 United States Census, Blanco County had been created
and was one of 151 counties. Its adult population was estimated at 568.
Comal County then has approximately 1842 adults with 835 in New
Braunfels, leaving approximately 1,007 in the rural parts of the county.

Kendall County had yet to be established. By then Texas boosted a total
population of 604,213 with 182,563 identified as slaves. The 3rd largest
town was Houston with 3,768, the 2nd as Galveston with 6,127 and the
largest town in Texas just a couple of days ride from the Blanco area as
San Antonio with a population of 7,642.

One may ask, what does these population statistics have to do with this
celebration? What it shows is that from extremely humble beginnings, with
time, patience and perseverance, Twin Sisters Lodge formed and shortly
thereafter moved to Blanco, the county seat of Blanco County after which
it changed its name to Blanco Masonic Lodge #216

Blanco Lodge has continuously operated in or immediately close to Blanco
for all of its 150 years. This includes operating through the Civil War, the
reconstruction, the Spanish American War, World War's I and II, and
all conflicts both here and abroad.

Masonry has always been involved in public education and Blanco Lodge
is no exception.

From the beginning of the Republic of Texas, it's 3rd President, Mirabeau
B. Lamar worked with the legislature and passed laws to set aside land
whose income could and would fund Texas Public Schools. The Blanco
Lodge's work on schools began right after the end of the Civil War.

By April 23, 1874, the State of Texas granted a Charter for the formation
of the Blanco Masonic University. After purchasing the land, digging a
water well, quarrying and hauling rocks, procuring of lime & other site
work, this dream of the Blanco Masonic University was shattered
apparently due to insufficient funding. During the years immediately thereafter, there was much interest to build a high school in Blanco.

In the summer of 1883 a meeting was called and there a stock company
was formed and shares were offered to fund the endeavor. The Blanco
Masonic University transferred the land, foundation & stone that they
owned to the new Blanco High School in exchange for stock in the new
school. The cornerstone for the Blanco High School was laid on March
1, 1884 just three blocks behind our current Lodge Building.

Blanco Masonic Lodge has survived through the rough times as well as
the good times and we are still just as committed to the community as our
founding Brothers were. We still work closely with Blanco Public Schools
and help to sponsor many different endeavors. Proudly, we have for
several years offered scholarships to deserving graduating seniors.

We boast of Brothers who have served on the School Boards & served
as teachers and principals who are members of our Lodge. The Lodge
enjoys its relationship with this community.

Since inception of the "Don't Mess with Texas" campaign, we have
sponsored a two mile stretch of highway cleanup on U.S. Highway 281
north of the city limits.

For fund raising, we enjoy sponsoring the Blanco Classic Car Show now
in its 20th year which is held on the third Saturday of May at the Blanco
Texas State Park.

For projects we have worked with not only the city, but with the Yett Park
Committee with their work including a playground. We are committed to
those most unfortunate by significantly sponsoring capital projects at the
Scottish Rite Learning Center of Austin whose work is to overcome the
effects of Dyslexia.

From generation to generation we have enjoyed and worked in OUR
community. Just today we have celebrated by naming another of our
Community Builders, Doctor John Weaver.

Since 2000, we have worked with the help of the Blanco School Teachers
& sponsored the Take Time to Read program for your young people. More
than 700 students have received recognition right here in this very room.

And our Masonic heritage is even stronger. Our current Worshipful
Master is Worshipful Alan Dobie Benson, who lives in the home built
by his grandfather, our Past Master Clifford Allie Benson, Senior, who
is now deceased. Dobie's Father, Brother Clifford Allie "Bud" Benson, Jr.
lives just a stone's throw from the homestead. And this last November at
the young age of 20, we initiated Dobie and Judy's son, Robin Dobie Benson
as an Entered Apprentice Mason. This is but one story of a strong Masonic
Family Heritage, all being members in Blanco Masonic Lodge. But please
note, new heritage begins with new members.

To be a Mason, one only needs to ask one. No one will ever ask you to be
a Mason. We humbly thank and appreciate every person's attendance here
to celebrate this auspicious occasion of this, our 150th year.

Look well to the West, Blanco Masonic Lodge #216

This article is reprinted with permission of the author.
Prepared for Blanco Masonic Lodge Sesquicentennial Celebration
January 19, 2008 by Guy W. Anderson, PM, DDGM 50B 2000

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