Prince Hall Freemasonry In The Lone Star State
From Cuney to Curtis, 1875-2003
Rev. Bro. Dr. Robert L. Uzzel has penned a very comprehensive look into Texas Prince Hall Masonry from its inception into the 21st century as well as a look into society, politics, and some of the events that shaped the history of the Lone Star State.
After a minimal setting of the stage he tells the story of Texas Prince Hall Masonry through the eyes of each Grand Master and those who surrounded them. We get a look at what each Grand Master said at Grand Sessions, the programs they originated and implemented, the successes they had and the failures that also dogged their tenure.
Uzzel pulls no punches. He tells all about both the good stuff and the bad stuff. We learn about the Grand Master who was an influential politician, the Grand Master who started as a contractor and bridge builder but later became a Sate Rep., the three Grand Masters who were also church Bishops, the Grand Master who served 20 years in the Grand East, the Grand Master whose house burned down, the Grand Master who spoke of Masons as pathfinders and who banned Duncan’s ritual, the Grand Master whose wife was as prominent in Masonic circles as he was, the Grand Master who was a public school principal and who erected a monument at Brenham, Texas commemorating the formation of the Grand Lodge, the Grand Master who’s tenure saw the failure of the Grand Lodge’s Bank & Trust Company, the Grand Master who was also Sovereign Grand Commander, Scottish Rite, South Jurisdiction and who visited Liberia, the Grand Master who was tried for un-Masonic conduct, the Grand Master who was a District Court judge and the Grand Master who had a protracted legal battle with the Order of Eastern Star.
The first Grand Master of Prince Hall Texas was The Honorable Norris Wright Cuney who was installed as such in Brenham, Texas on August 19, 1875 by Capt. William D. Matthews, Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge. The Beehive honors that date by posting this article on August 19, 2010. Twenty more Grand Masters followed to this date. The present Grand Master, The Honorable Wilbert M. Curtis was installed in 2003 and is enjoying his seventh year in the Grand East.
Along the way many a Grand Master has made many an inspiring address to his Grand Lodge, all readable in Uzzel’s masterpiece. One of the best was this portion of the fourth Grand Master’s address, by the Honorable Abram Grant, to the Seventh Annual Communication on June 7, 1882.
“Assembled in these consecrated walls for the discharge of the important duties entrusted to our supervision, in the full enjoyment of peace, there is every reason for the expression of profound gratitude to the Almighty God, that, despite our frailties and shortcomings, His tender care has been ever manifest, and for humble aspiration that the present session and proceedings may be so conducted that not only shall they profit our venerable craft but also redound to the greater glory of our Heavenly Father, to whose name we ascribe all honor and praise. You have come here to declare your appreciation of the character and the objects of Freemasonry; to record your homage for its founders, and admiration of its splendid charities, and dedicate yourselves to the permanence and perpetuation of its principles. And we would leave here also for the generations which are soon to fill our places some proof that we endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of its principles, in our veneration of its charities, in our devotion to its morality, in our regard for whatever improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of the high trust confided in us. Other places and other occasions you reserve for strife and disputation, and struggle for mastery and the sharp competitions of life. But here shall be peace and reconciliation. Within these walls, the knowledge and the morality, which are of no creed and no party, which are graceful and profitable for all alike, which are true and real to every mind and to every conscience, and in every brain and heart – these itself – these alone are inculcated here. Happy, especially, if we shall rouse ourselves to their utmost capacity – if we shall feel that we are summoned by a new notice and by an obligation unfelt before, to an unaccustomed effort to appropriate to our hearts and reason all the countless good which is hidden in the principles and teachings of Freemasonry.”
Uzzel tells us in the concluding epilogue that, “The lives of the twenty-one Grand Masters who have presided over the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas in the past 125 years have influenced and been influenced by many important historical events. Thus it is impossible to totally separate Masonic history from other aspects of history. Much interesting information can be gleaned by examining the lives of these twenty-one men.”
And if you pick up and read “Prince Hall Freemasonry In The Lone Star State” you shall have a very unique and well assembled insight into the times, the lives and the history of the late nineteenth and all of the twentieth century written from the point of view of the struggle of Black Masonry to surmount and survive all the obstacles put in its path.
I recommend this book most highly.