History of Lee
Lodge # 435
While Lee Lodge
# 435 is located in Prosper, TX, this is not where it started or operated for
it’s first 28 years. To obtain a solid understanding of the history of Lee
Lodge, it is necessary to achieve an understanding of the community and
something of the men who founded the lodge.
The Rhea’s Mills Community
Rhea’s Mills, a
rural community, was founded by the Rhea family about 1856 and was located some
ten or twelve miles northwest of McKinney and about five miles northeast of the
town of Prosper, Collin County, Texas. Prior to the Civil War three members of
this family stood out prominently in the community. These men were interested
not only in themselves but also in the building up of a community spirit. The
sterling character of these three brothers was no doubt responsible for the
building of such a fine community.
Unfortunately, they were not able to carry out the designs they had drawn on
the trestle board due to the fact that they were interrupted by the outbreak of
the Civil War. Heeding the call to the colors, these brothers volunteered their
services for the defense of the Confederacy. This struggle was destined to
change their plans still more. In the conflict, John W. Rhea gave his life on
the field of battle while his brother, William A. Rhea, received a wound which
incapacitated him for further military service and he returned home before the
close of the war. The third brother, James C. Rhea, was perhaps more fortunate
than the other two for he came through the whole struggle all in one piece.
Just before the outbreak of the war, William A. and James C. Rhea started the
first business in the Rhea community. This business was in the form of a
carding machine. It is said, and on good authority, that the wool growers from
over a great section of North Texas brought their wool to this place to be
carded. While the Rhea brothers were in the army, the carding machine was
burned by a rebellious worker. This was naturally a great loss but we find that
the business was soon re-established.
During the days of reconstruction following the Civil War, conditions in the
Rhea community were not unlike that of thousands of other communities in the
Southern States. It was during these years that the Rheas decided to expand
their business. Therefore, about 1866, a store was established. This expansion
of the business naturally brought more people into the community and Rhea’s
Mills was soon to become a trading center for a great part of the western
portion of Collin County. James C. Rhea was the buyer for the firm and made
practically all of his purchases in St. Louis where, due to the condition of the
time, he was compelled to pay cash. The goods were conveyed over rail to
Jefferson, Texas, thence overland to Rhea’s Mills where they were set up and
adjusted ready for sale.
By 1873, the business had grown to such an extent that a flourmill was established
and in the following year a corn mill was added to the list. Positive proof has
not been secured but it is believed that it was not until this time that the
community came to be known as Rhea’s Mills. In more recent years, it has been
called “Rhea Mills” and “Rhea’s Mill” but no one seems to know when or why the
change was made.
The Rhea's Mills community grew so rapidly and so many people settled
there that it was soon found both convenient and necessary to establish a post
office. This was done about 1875 and James C. Rhea was made the first Post
Master. The post office was operated in connection with the other business.
The Organization of Lee Lodge
From the earliest days of the Rhea’s Mills community, it has been made up of an
honorable and highly esteemed citizenship. This being true, it is not
unreasonable to believe that a good number of these hardy pioneers were Masons.
The nearest Masonic lodge was located in McKinney, some ten or twelve
miles away, and the mode of travel of the day made it very difficult for them
to attend regularly. Due to this fact, it was decided to form a lodge at Rhea’s
Mills and, accordingly, the Grand Lodge was petitioned for a dispensation. The
following is a copy of the dispensation as granted by the Grand Lodge:
“Whereas the following Dispensation has
been granted to wit:
In the name and by the authority of the
Grand Lodge of Texas A. F. & A. M.
Whereas, a Petition has been presented to
me by sundry Brethren, to Wit: Brothers William Miller, William D. Davis,
Samuel R. Muncy, Alexander Newman, William F.Rubottom, William A. Rhea, James
C. Rhea, Jeremiah Martin, George Horn, David Doyle, John J. Muncy, William J.
Muncy, John R. Black, and D.J. Franklin residing at or near Rhea’s Mills in the
County of Collin and State of Texas, (Rhea’s Mills, P.O.) praying to be
congregated into a regular Lodge, and promising to render obedience to the
ancient usages and landmarks of the Fraternity, and the laws of the Grand
Lodge; and whereas, said petitioners have been recommended to me as Master
Masons in good standing by the Master, Wardens and Brethren of St. Johns Lodge
No 51 under our jurisdiction, and, also, by R. W. Brother D. J. Eddleman,
District Deputy Grand Master of the Seventh District: Therefore, I Thomas R.
Bonner, Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A. F. and A. Masons
of Texas, reposing full confidence in the recommendation aforesaid, and in the
Masonic integrity and ability of the petitioners do, by virtue of the authority
in me vested hereby grant this Dispensation empowering and authorizing our
trusty and well beloved Brethren aforesaid to form and open a Lodge named LEE
after the manner of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and therein to admit and
make Free Masons according to the Ancient customs and not otherwise, in said
Lee Lodge, under this Dispensation.
This Dispensation is to continue in full
force until the next Annual Communication of our Grand Lodge aforesaid, unless
sooner revoked by constitutional authority.
And I do hereby appoint Brother William
Miller to be the first Master, Brother William D. Davis to the be first Senior
Warden, and Brother Alexander Newman to be the first Junior Warden of said
And it shall be their duty, and they are
hereby required to return this Dispensation, with a correct manuscript of all
proceedings had under the authority of the same, together with an attested copy
of the By-Laws adopted, to our Grand Lodge aforesaid, at the expiration of the
time herein specified, for examination and for such further action in the
premises as there shall be deemed wise and proper.
Given under my Hand and Seal, by the authority
of the Grand Lodge, at Tyler this 3rd day of December A. D. 1874 A.
January 2nd, 1875, a constituting meeting was held for the purpose
of formally opening Lee Lodge. Exactly where this meeting was held is not known
since no mention of it is made in the minutes. However, from the minutes of
that meeting we learn that
“On motion, Brothers W.A. Rhea, W.F.
Rubottom and W.D. Davis were appointed a committee to make permanent
arrangements for a Lodge room and report at the next stated meeting. On motion
the Worshipful Master was added to said committee.”
the next stated meeting held on January 30th 1875, the
above-mentioned committee reported that they had made arrangements with
Brothers W.A. and J.C. Rhea for the use of one of their rooms. No mention is
made of where this room was located, but from other sources, the information
comes that it was located on the second floor of a building just south of the
store. The lower floor of this building was used for school purposes. According
to this agreement, the Lodge was to have use of the room for a period of three
years for a consideration of seventy-two dollars per annum. The Lodge
authorized Brothers Rhea to have the stations made, for a portable character
and put in place. The Lodge agreeing to reimburse them for said stations.
The first degree conferred by Lee Lodge was on March 27, 1875 when Brother R.
W. Hunt was passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft. They had previously obtained
a waiver of Jurisdiction from St. Johns Lodge No. 51, at McKinney, where he was
initiated. However, we find that the first to be initiated, passed and raised
was Brother Thomas McNeil.
At this time, the Grand Lodge met in June and we now find our brethren making
preparations to secure a charter for Lee Lodge. From the minutes of April 24th,
of that year, we find,
“By order of the Worshipful Master the
By-Laws in Taylor’s Monitor were read by the Secretary, and on motion, were
unanimously adopted for the guidance and government of this lodge, retaining
the name LEE, exempting the Treasurer, Secretary and Tiler from payment of dues
as compensation for their services as such, fixing the Lodge dues at
twenty-five cents a month for each and every Mason member of this Lodge, and
appointing the Fourth Saturday in each month, at 2 P.M. the time for holding
our stated meetings.
On motion, the Secretary was instructed to
apply to our Most Worshipful Grand Lodge for a charter and to draw upon the
Treasurer for the sum of $25.00 to accompany said application.”
The application was accepted by the Grand
Lodge and the Charter was granted on the 5th day of June 1875, being
signed by Grand Master Joseph D. Sayers. The first meeting held after the
Charter was granted was on the 26th day of June with the following
members present: William Miller, W.D. Davis, W.A. Rhea, J.C. Rhea, W. F.
Rubottom, S.R. Muncy, David Doyle, M.W. Pafford, and John J. Muncy and W.P.
Cloyd and E. F. Brown visiting. “Brother Cloyd then took charge of the Lodge
and by the authority of the R.W. District Deputy Grand Master, organized us
into a regular lodge No. 435 F.&A. Masons.”
During the next few years following the
granting of that charter, Lee Lodge enjoyed a very steady growth. However, they
were not so anxious for growth that they would sacrifice quality for quantity,
which is evidenced by the fact that during this time several applicants were
rejected both for initiation and affiliation. It is natural to expect that the
lodge would have some years very difficult to get through in a financial way.
Probably due to this fact, or out of sheer generosity, the Brothers Rhea on
February 28, 1878 “agree to furnish gratis room now used by the Lodge, for a
period of one year beginning January 1st, 1878 and ending December
In 1883 the residence of Brother W.F. Rubottom was burned. Brother
Rubottom was at that time Secretary of the Lodge and evidently kept the meeting
minute books at his home, for one of the books, covering the proceedings of the
Lodge from April 3rd, 1879 to October 30th, 1883. A
historical and Statistical Committee, composed of James C. Rhea, W.F. Rubottom
and William A. Rhea, was appointed to work up a record of the proceeding of the
Lodge to replace the book that was destroyed. Each year’s work is summarized at
that end of the year and from this summary we get a very good idea of the
general condition of the Lodge. Summarizing the work of the year ending June 24th,
1881, we find:
“Ten stated communications and one called
meeting were held. The Follow Craft’s and Master Mason’s degrees were conferred
on one brother. Two brethren were affiliated and three members were demitted
from the Lodge. As usual, the Lodge exercised a discriminating charity in the
bestowal of alms upon the many who appealed to her for aid, but the deeds of
benevolence are no doubt, gratefully remembered by the worthy recipients of the
charitable gifts. The moral status of the Lodge has been fully sustained. Peace
and harmony have prevailed among the brethren. The practice of the Masonic
virtues have not been lost sight of. Strict obedience of the Law and the
recognized usages of the fraternity have been taught by the officers and
practiced by the members generally; and we realized indeed that it is both
pleasant and profitable for brethren to dwell together in unity. The number of
members on the roll has neither been increased nor diminished, but we stand
today just where we did twelve months ago with twenty-nine members.”
During these first eight years of it's existence, Lee Lodge enjoyed a very
steady growth. From all indications, the members were very interested in the
work and much enthusiasm was manifested.
The first mention made of moving the lodge was in the minutes of September 22,
1894 when a motion was made to relocate to Walnut Grove, TX. Nothing is further
shown in any records regarding this proposal. Subsequent records show on three
different occasions where several members submitted proposals to erect a
two-story building at Rhea's Mills that would be suitable for a school house on
the lower floor and the upper floor to be used for lodge purposes.
However, all of these proposals were rejected due to the lodge not being able
to secure the kind of title they wanted to the land on which to build. From all
indications, this was the primary cause for moving the lodge away from Rhea's
Mills. No doubt this question was discussed frequently in subsequent meetings,
but nothing further appears in the meeting minutes until May 25, 1901. On this
date, a committee was appointed consisting of three men, McKindra Smith,
Jeremiah Martin and R.L. Horn. This committee was charged to locate a new place
for the Lee Lodge building and make a report back to the lodge. As each of
these men were farmers and given the time of season coinciding with their
livelihood, it is suspected that this caused a considerable delay in the
committee's work towards their charge.
At the stated meeting of March 22, 1902, the committee made the following
"We, your committee appointed to
investigate and look out a location for a suitable place to build a lodge would
respectfully report: That we have conferred with the Brothers Rhea and they
propose to donate a lot of suitable size for lodge anywhere we may
desire. We have also made a selection of a lot at Prosper, forty by one hundred
and fifty feet, which will be donated, provided we build a brick, if of wood
structure it will cost one hundred dollars. All of which is respectfully
submitted, Mckindra Smith, Jeremiah Martin, R.L. Horn."
In the minutes from April 26, 1902, the decision was made to move the
lodge to Prosper. There were seventeen members present at the meeting, 10 voted
for the move and 7 voted against it.
Special permission was obtained from the
Grand Lodge for the move as soon as the building was completed. In
the minutes of May 23, 1903, a notation was made to the effect the Brother W.T.
Settle was allowed two dollars and fifty cents for moving the lodge furniture
from Rhea's Mills to Prosper.
Lee Lodge # 435 - Prosper, TX
The first meeting of Lee Lodge held in
Prosper was on February 28, 1903. The exact place of this meeting is not known.
It is evident that they did not meet in the new lodge pictured above, for from
the minutes of November 29, 1904, "A Master Masons Lodge was opened in due
and ancient form by District Deputy Grand Master W.P. Abernathy, who had made
the call meeting of Lee Lodge in order to examine our new hall. After his
examination he reported it is in good condition and gives Lee Lodge permission
to commence work in it's new hall."
This lodge building served the
fraternity until 1967, when the current lodge facility was erected at 101 South
Lee Lodge # 435 has continued to be an
important part of the Prosper area and continues to search for meaningful ways
to serve the community.
The following are some of the charities, which receive support from the
donations, fundraisers and efforts of Lee Lodge # 435:
Masonic Home and School of Texas
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for
Community Service Events
Texas Public Schools System
College Scholarship Fund Awards to
graduating high school seniors of PISD
Lee Lodge # 435, A.F.&A.M., is a fraternal organization that admits,
makes, and passes Freemasons according to the Constitution and Laws, and Edicts
of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. It's goals are
to advance the moral and social interests of its membership; to foster good
citizenship, honest industry and upright living; to cultivate the exercise of
charity in its best and broadest sense; to assist the widows and orphans of its
deceased members; to stimulate friendship, harmony and brotherly love, and
generally to promote, in its own way, the happiness of mankind --- it is a Fraternity
of good men, linked together by honorable and indissoluble bonds, to accomplish
these noble purposes, eschewing all interests in factional politics and
sectarian religion and free from the dictation of both.