Masons use gumbo to help fund scholarships

Josh Criswell/ The ItemThe Forrest Masonic Lodge No. 19, A.F. & A. M. will celebrate its 175th anniversary in January. The lodge is one of the oldest in Texas. 

One of the oldest organizations in Huntsville is bringing back a beloved fundraiser to raise money for local scholarships. 

Forrest Masonic Lodge No. 19 will host its annual chili and gumbo fundraiser Oct. 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., featuring homemade chili, seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage gumbo.

“We hold our fundraisers twice a year, once in October, once in the spring,” Forrest Lodge treasurer Steven Rich said. “Our fundraisers have grown in popularity each year and highly anticipated by the community.”

As one of 25 Republic of Texas lodges, Forrest Masonic Lodge dates back before Texas became a state — with Texas icon Sam Houston being one of the lodge’s earliest members, who presided at the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas in 1837.

“This is our lodge’s 175th year and over that time we have grown to over 220 members,” Rich added. “We have had three buildings over that time, with our current building being one of three historic buildings in Downtown Huntsville. It has been standing for 111 years on the square.”

George Tyler Wood became a member of Forrest Lodge in 1847, and that same year was elected Governor. During his administration, the state penitentiary in Huntsville, and state library, in Austin, were created. Henderson Yoakum, who wrote the first definitive history of the State of Texas, served as Worshipful Master of Forrest Lodge in 1850.

“Our lodge is rooted in Texas and local history,” Rich said. “We take pride in our history and our tradition of giving back to the community.”

The fundraiser will be held at the Masonic Temple at 1030 12th Street, with tickets costing $8 each. All proceeds will go toward the Lodge Scholarship Fund, which gives out three scholarships — two for graduating seniors at Huntsville High School and one for a lodge member’s child or grandchild.

“We have hosted our scholarship fundraisers for decades now,” Rich added. “They were originally for $500, but have grown to $1,000. We look at this as an investment in our community and want to support our young people continuing their education.”

Carry-outs will be available, with deliveries within the Huntsville city limits available for five or more orders. To place an order on the day of the event, call 936-661-7037.