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Contributing Writer

The Magnolia Lodge #197 in Washington was chartered on February 16, 1870, with Daniel H, Quirk, George O. Elms and James Jackson Hicks as principal officers. However, the Washington Masons were active before the organization received its charter.

The Opelousas Journal of July 3, 1869, reported on the Masonic Ball held at the Washington Lodge on Thursday, June 24th of that year. The report read: “One of those pleasant reunions, where wit, sentiment and good feelings prevail, took place last Thursday evening at the Masonic Hall in Washington. Notwithstanding the unfavorable state of the atmosphere, the long-anticipated ball was a perfect success and attracted a great many. Those who failed to attend, are entitled to the commiseration of the entire gathering, whose better fortune or ‘good angels’ led them thither. The Hall was not crammed but was comfortably filled with those who evidently appreciated and enjoyed the gaieties of the evening. The ladies wore their usual smiles and trimmings, while the gentlemen won golden opinions by their attentions to the fairer sex.”

Other Masonic events occurred at the lodge throughout the 1870s including a grand Fancy Dress Ball given by Carl Wolff Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, on Friday, December 31, 1875.

Unfortunately, the Magnolia No. 197 was plagued by a lack of strong membership and forfeited it charter on February 17, 1881. Washington had no Masonic organization for several years until 1907 when the Courtableau Lodge #122 was organized on April 13, 1907, with twenty-six members under the leadership of A. W. Bittle, J. W. Bailey, Jr. and Max Klaus. It was chartered on February 4, 1908, and after laboring twenty-seven years surrendered it charter on February 6, 1935. Many of the Washington members joined Masonic groups in other area towns including the Humble Cottage Lodge in Opelousas. [1]

The featured photograph at the top, from the albums of Ophelia Pitre Lafleur, Tommy Lafleur collection, shows the Washington Masonic Lodge in the early part of the 20th century. At that time, it was known as Courtableau Lodge #122. This photograph is included in the book “Through A Lens – Early 20th Century Washington, LA”

[1] Much of this information was provided by Jay Hartley from the book: “Let There Be Light – A History of Freemasonry in Louisiana – 1763-1989” by Dr. H. Glenn Jordan.