History of Post Oak Island Lodge #181 A.F. & A.M.
Post Oak Island Lodge #181, AF&AM , chartered on June 24, 1856, held it's first meeting at the town of Post Oak Island. One of the very earliest settlements in the county, the town of Post Oak Island had been in existence at least by 1839, almost a decade before the formation of Williamson County. On the 1850 Texas Land Office map for the county, the only towns shown are Georgetown and Post Oak Island.
In 1878, Lodge 181 moved to Sam Smith Springs, some four miles to the southeast, in Lee County. This move is said to have been made because all sources of timber in the vicinity of Post Oak Island had been depleted; having been cut down for use as firewood and building material. When David B. Lawhon later purchased the land covering these springs, the name was changed from Sam Smith Springs to Lawhon Springs.
It was at Sam Smith Springs that the tradition of utilizing the Lodge to serve the community as a school and a meeting place as well as a meeting place for the Masons, originated. The lower floor of the building was put to use as a school and by 1898 the enrollment had reached 92. One of the first students in this school, Hode Hobbs, recalled in later years how he, then a young man, had watched as the building was torn down at the close of the 19th century. The lower part of the building was left in place for continued use as a school, and lumber from the upper half was utilized in construction of the new Lodge building in Beaukiss.
It has been generally accepted as fact that the building itself was moved to Lawhon Springs and thence to Beaukiss. "History of Lee County", published in 1974 states "the lodge building was moved from Post Oak Island to Lawhon Springs and later to Beaukiss where the lodge is still active." In Clara Scarbrough's book, "Land of Good Water", it is stated that "the Masons built a Lodge Hall which was later moved to Beaukiss where the lodge is still active." Records in the "Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas" indicate that at no time was there any movement of the buildings, only the organization was moved to a new location and a new building.
The present Post Oak Island Lodge #181 building at Beaukiss was completed in 1900 and has been in continuous use since that time. It is a two story balloon-frame structure, 40'3" X 22'3", with a 7 foot wide porch across the front. The siding is 1X6 vee edge of long-leaf pine applied horizontally. The double-hung windows were replaced a few years ago. Porches are roofed with a standard rib, corrugated galvanized iron. A similiar material with a smaller rib is used on the main roof.
The first meeting at the lodge in Beaukiss was held on June 24, 1901. The building continued its dual function of serving the community and as a meeting place for the masonic members. The lower floor served as a General Store, and it also served as the Post Office for Beaukiss. In 1900 the population of Beaukiss was 114 but by 1960 it had dwindled to 20. Today the only remaining evidence of a town is the current Lodge building and a Methodist Church.
Typical of older Masonic Lodges the building had no windows on the ground floor. When it was first completed in 1900 the only entrance to the second floor was an outside stairway. Shortly after World War II, the Post Office was discontinued and the General Store went out of business. Members of the Lodge then moved the outside stairway into the building where it still serves as the entrance to the second floor.
Some of the original furniture from the first lodge building is still in use today. Chairs made of elm wood with rawhide seats, dating from 1855, are used in the present Lodge. One of these original chairs is on exhibit in the Grand Lodge of Texas in Waco.
At the present time no formal use is being made of the first floor by outside agencies. However, community meetings, barbecues, ice cream socials and covered dish dinners continue to be held there. Members of Post Oak Island #181, AF&AM stll meet there on the first thursday of each month.
By Jackson Daugherty