Canyon City was founded on Christmas Day in 1887 by L.G. Conner, who surveyed and located the site where the city of Canyon now stands. He bought the land around Canyon City from the state for $3 an acre. On July 27, 1889 Randall County was organized and Canyon City was chosen as the County Seat. Mr. Conner was an instrumental figure in guiding the young community, where he ran a cattle business, established the first real estate office, established and operated the first post-office (from his dugout), and built the “Victoria” hotel. To attract settlers, Conner gave a lot to anyone who built a business or residence in Canyon City, and donated land for the building of a railway station, public schools, and West Texas State Normal College.
L.G. Conner was also a founding member of Canyon City Masonic Lodge #730, which was chartered on December 11, 1891, making it one of the oldest lodges in the Texas Panhandle. The Charter members of the Lodge were: P.A. Dowlen, I.N. Hix, J.A. Leslie, W.F. Heller, W.H. Stewart, Al Shepherd, B.M. Black, J.A. Cook, J.O. Brown, D.J. Butler, D.P. Sink, L.G. Connor, A.T. Leslie, R.A. Campbell, and J.D. Trusty. The first meeting of the Lodge was held January 23, 1892. In those days, the Canyon Masons met on the second story of the original Randall County courthouse, and paid dues of $3.00.
A few firsts: Our first Altar and Ballot Box were purchased April 25, 1896. Our first Officer Jewels were ordered August, 27, 1898, and our Middle Chamber Pillars were purchased August 1, 1903. The Building Committee was authorized to furnish the Lodge with lights, chairs, curtains, spittoons, etc. on March 30, 1901!
In 1905, the Canyon City National Bank was organized. A Masonic Hall was built at the bank, which was purchased by the Lodge on 5/16/1906 for $3200 becoming the official home of the Canyon City Lodge and the Canyon City Order of the Eastern Star. The bank was the first building to be bricked in Canyon City, and the completion of the brickwork was announced in the Canyon City News on November 16, 1906. At the time the Masons would meet “on Saturday evening on or before the full moon in each month.”
Founder of Canyon, founding member of Canyon City Lodge #730
The first Randall County Courthouse, where Masons met when the lodge was chartered.
Canyon National Bank
The first bricked building in Canyon City, and home to the original Masonic Hall.
Many prominent early settlers of Canyon City were Masons, and so the lodge played a key role in defining the landscape of the city. On Saturday, September 19, 1908, The Grand Lodge of the State of Texas, under the auspices of the Canyon City Lodge, gathered to lay the cornerstone of the new Randall County Courthouse, which stands to this day. A celebration was held in the courthouse square, and the day was set aside as a general picnic for anyone in the community or neighboring counties that wished to attend. A parade was also held, led by the Masonic Lodge “with their plumed hats and their horses all decorated.” In 2010 the exterior of the Courthouse was fully restored, and the cornerstone can still be clearly seen with information about the ceremony.
Randall County Courthouse and cornerstone laid Canyon City Lodge
On May 24, 1910 the lodge again was called to help lay the cornerstone for the West Texas State Normal College. A special train was run from Lubbock specifically for this event, stopping in every town along the line until it was filled to seating capacity. Among the guests, the Plainview Commandery attended in full uniform to celebrate the occasion. Over 500 Masons joined in a parade leading from the courthouse square to the future site of the West Texas State Normal College and the cornerstone was laid at 11:15AM with Masonic honors under the direction of District Deputy Grand Master Spencer.
Unfortunately, that building was lost to a fire on March 25, 1914 when the torch of a workman at the college exploded while he labored in the attic of the building. The President of the college, R. B. Cousins called the fire a “temporary inconvenience” declaring that great institutions do not burn and “If West Texas State is nothing more than brick and mortar, it ought to die.” Classes were temporarily held in pine wood shacks on campus, and construction of a new building began on December 29, 1914. On April 21, 1916 construction of the new Administration Building was finally finished, just over two years after the fire. The cornerstone from the original building was preserved and again laid by the lodge on Septemer 15, 1915 - it can still be viewed at “Old Main.” R. B. Cousins, aside from being the first president of the college, was also a Mason, acting as Worshipful Master of the lodge from 1916-1917.
West Texas State Normal College Fire
March 25, 1914
Old Main and Cornerstone
The original WTSNC cornerstone was laid at Old Main
The Lodge was again called on to lay the cornerstone at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum on November 5, 1932. The original building was 12,500 square feet, finished in Texas Limestone and opened to the public in 1933.
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, and museum cornerstone now located in front of the building.
In 1972, construction of our current Lodge at 909 9Th Avenue was completed. The Lodge cornerstone was laid in due and ancient form on Friday, May 5, 1972 by then State Senator and acting Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Jack Hightower. The building took 8 years to complete, but cost the lodge only $25,000 – members donated all of the labor except laying the cement blocks of which the building was constructed. The Lodge, in it's current location, is just down the street from the original site of L.G. Conner's dugout.
Canyon City Lodge After Construction
Canyon City Lodge Now
State Senator and acting Grand Master Jack Hightower laying the cornerstone of Canyon City Lodge #730, May 5, 1972.
Happy Lodge #1008 History
The Happy Lodge was chartered on December 9th,1909, with 20 members at the end of its first year. Those members were F.F. Brown, E.A. Logan, G.A. Stratton, W.E. Barber, E.T. Meador, C.R. Strong, H.M. Baggerly, Peter Meyers, S.T. Wheeler, W.A. Cook, Dr. F.U. McElroy, C.S. Wheeler, C.G. Innis, J.M. McNaughton, J.S. Wesley, A.E. Hosler, George Onan, S.C. Whitman, C.D. Lester, and W.W. Stephenson. The lodge met originally at the McRae Building moving to the First National bank building in 1916. Their regular meeting night was set the Saturday Night after the full moon each month.
The Lodge was, early on, active in charitable causes with members setting aside funds for Masonic Widows and Orphans, sending money to the Masonic Home and School, and contributing to the relief of flood victims in Corpus Christi in 1919.
On January 3, 1958, the Lodge purchased a new lodge building, which they began remodeling on December 8, 1958. The new Lodge was opened May 11, 1959 for its first official meeting. The lighted letter "G" at the new building was a gift from the Past Grand Master of Texas William W. Boothe (1956).
The Lodge grew steadily during it's first 50 years and at its peak had well over 100 members. In 1993, the Happy Lodge consolidated with the Canyon City Lodge.
A building once used as Happy Lodge #1008
Picture hanging at the Grand Lodge of Texas, Date Unknown
The last building used as Happy Lodge #1008
Still standing in Happy Texas, with the old lodge room in the back.