Inside the Rio Grande Masonic Lodge

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas — It’s believed to be the oldest surviving fraternal organization in the world, dating back hundreds of years. 

Variously known as Freemasonry, Masonry or The Craft, the fraternity has existed since at least the 16th century. 

In the 1800s it came to the Lone Star State, the first Masonic meeting was held in Texas near Houston, and less than twenty years later, a lodge was chartered in Brownsville on January 23, 1851. 

The Masons in Brownsville were extremely contributory to the building of Brownsville. What we have around us here is virtually 300 of the past heads of the Masons,” said Eugene Fernandez, Commissioner for Cameron County Historical Commission. 

The Masonic Order is a serious group.  It exists to take good men and help them to become better men. it teaches the importance of helping the less fortunate, especially care for the widows and orphans of Masons. There is much biblical imagery used, and members must have a belief in God and in life after death, although it is not a religion. 

“These names are highly recognizable, they have street names, they have schools named after them, they were extremely productive people that gave to Brownsville and their contribution should be noted,” Fernandez said. 

Persons of all faiths and Christian denominations are a part of the worldwide Masonic fraternity. There are now over 122,000 Masons in Texas with a total of 914 lodges, and they hope it will only grow. 

And the building is historical itself. Before it was a Masonic Lodge, it was a courthouse that saw many significant cases including the Brownsville Affair.

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