ASHLAND LODGE (IN DIANA TX) WITH ITS "OUTDOOR DEGREE" ADDS AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURE TO THE AREA
by JAMES A. MARPLES
Sep 16, 2017 | 719 views | 0 0 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ASHLAND LODGE   (IN DIANA TX)   WITH   ITS  "OUTDOOR DEGREE" ADDS  AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURE TO THE AREA ...drawing spectators from several States
 
On September 9th, I was very pleased to attend the annual "Outdoor Masonic Degree", sponsored by Ashland Masonic Lodge #1138 in Diana, Texas.  The Lodge holds a yearly outdoor conferral of the Third Degree at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel grounds just slightly northeast of Diana.  I think this was my 6th "outdoor degree" that I have attended there..and maybe the most colorful and dramatic.
 
The Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel was built by former U.S. District Court Judge T. Whitfield Davidson in honor of his mother.  Judge Davidson was a Past Grand Master of a DIFFERENT fraternal organization: The independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge.  it is similar to the Masons; yet different. I am a member of both fraternal groups.
 
The event on September 9th was spectacular.  The nationally acclaimed "American Indian Masonic Degree Team" came from OKLAHOMA to DIANA, TEXAS and conferred the conferral of the Master Mason Degree by inducting a new candidate.  The degree-team was composed of men from various tribes, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw,  Pawnee, even one Apache, and I'm sure various tribes I didn't hear mentioned.  It was quite an event.  The degree-team men travel all over the nation conferring the Masonic Degrees in full Indian regalia.The ceremony was inspiring and as is the case with every Mason who makes solemn vows, obligations, and promises: An open holy Bible was always in view, and the Flags of the United States of America and the Flag of the Great State of Texas gently waved in almost a still breeze, among the tall pine trees.
 
It is somewhat amusing that even though I have no Indian blood in me, unless it be a tiny fraction: I initially became a member of the Masons some 35 years ago at Sunflower Lodge #86 in Wichita, Kansas.  The 'Wichita People' were once a very powerful Indian tribe which have four subgroup tribes: the Waco, Taovaya, Tawakoni, and the Wichita proper tribes which ranged from Kansas down to Texas. ironically, the Wichita tribe spoke a Caddoan language.
 
Just this past July 2017, I visited two Lodges in Shreveport, Louisiana --one, named Caddo Masonic Lodge #179 {named after the Caddo Indians}; and the other named Joppa Masonic Lodge #362.   At the "outdoor degree", I was able to greet three fine men whom I had met only 2 months ago at Joppa Lodge. One was a personal friend of my grandmother's cousin, Harry Carson Davidson, who was a member of the Masons for over 77 years of his 104 year life.
 
I met men who had Sioux, Pottawatomie, Cherokee, Otoe, Ponca, Kaw, Kickapoo, Cheyenne, Wyandot, Sac and Fox , and other tribes in their heritage, too.  In our visiting, I thought it was unique that the "Official Seal" of Kansas Masons features a white man in a "top hat"  shaking hands with --and jointly holding  holding the Masonic Square and Compasses emblem --with an American Indian --and both men wearing the white Masonic Apron...a symbol of honor, honesty, integrity, friendship, and goodwill to all.  How nice to see this concept exemplified ---in living color---with real people at Diana, Texas.
 
I commend all the area Lodges who helped make this year's event a true success.  There are too many to mention. However, two men in particular deserve "special thanks":  Travis Covin of Diana TX; and Ronnie Bledsoe of Longview, whom I consider a "true blue friend and a true blue Mason" who would go out-of-his-way to help anyone or any project succeed to the fullest.  This year's Masonic Outdoor Degree was a Cultural Event which was a highlight for the Greater Longview area --but especially a Cultural boost for the Diana area..  Well done.
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