SESQUICENTENNIAL: 150 Years of Masonic History in East Harris Co.

Masonic activity in East Harris County can be traced to 1858, when a lodge was authorized at a site known as Oak Island, which was land near the current Burnet park. Under authorization from the state organization, the Grand Lodge of Texas, Sampson Lodge No. 231 was chartered on June 16, 1859. It was named for Brother Henry Sampson of the Grand Lodge. A log cabin was built on the site, and served as the meeting place. However, it burned in 1863, was rebuilt, and then destroyed again by a great storm in 1875. A set of ceremonial jewels, given to the lodge by the Grand Lodge in 1859, survived the storm and were found attached to the doorknob of the lodge’s front door, floating in the bayou. Today, those same jewels, 150 years old, reside and are used by the Sampson Lodge.

Although the Lodge continued to meet in the Lynchburg area after the storm, the subsequent great hurricane of 1900, which destroyed much of Galveston, convinced them to rebuild further inland. Temporary quarters were found in a barn in Highlands at the Betts farm near White Cemetery, and a permanent Lodge building was built in Crosby, and opened June 8, 1901. This was a two story building that served the lodge well for its second 50 years, and until the decision was made to move to a new lodge building in Highlands.

In 1951, the brethren voted to move the Lodge to Highlands. A new building was constructed on Avenue D by the Masonic Lodge members. Within the year the building was debt free because the construction work was by members and friends, working with volunteered time and materials.

The first Worshipful Master of the Lodge was M. M. Michan. The second Past Master of Sampson Lodge was Brother Robert Blalock, from 1860 to 1863 and 1870 to 1872. He is buried on the banks of the San Jacinto River on Eighth Street in Highlands, in a private cemetery plot.

Today’s Sampson Lodge No. 231 is deeply involved in community activities. They have recently laid the cornerstones for our two new schools, Highlands Junior School, and Goose Creek Memorial High School, and they held a meeting in Burnet Park in Lynchburg on the 150th anniversary of their charter near that same place. They annually award a Community Builder Award to a non-masonic member of the community, and a Golden Trowel award to a mason of merit.

Other activities that the Lodge participates in are the Highlands Jamboree and Parade, Clean-up Day, Yellow Apron Day to solicit money for the Shriners Hospitals, Christmas Tree Ceremonies in the park, an annual Brisket Fundraiser whose funds are used to support needy families in the community, and the Northshore Rotary Club fish fry, where the club helps cook and in turn received a generous donation from the Rotary club for the Shriners Hospital in Galveston.