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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Brackettville in Kinney County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building

(First County Courthouse)

 
 
Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By William F Haenn, May 18, 2012
1. Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building Marker
Inscription. Built in 1878-1879 to serve as the first county-owned courthouse for Kinney County, this structure served that purpose for thirty-two years. In 1911 it became the headquarters of the Las Moras Masonic Lodge, which was chartered in 1876. While the Lodge used the second floor, the ground floor was leased to the U.S. Postal Service for the Brackettville Post Office from 1918 until 1983. Over the years, the building has also served as office space for Kinney County government departments.
 
Erected 1990 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 3040.)
 
Location. 29° 18.683′ N, 100° 25.037′ W. Marker is in Brackettville, Texas, in Kinney County. Marker is at the intersection of Ann Street (Ranch to Market Road 674) and Cook Alley, on the left when traveling north on Ann Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Brackettville TX 78832, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Kinney County Courthouse (a few steps from this marker); Fort Clark, CSA (within shouting distance of this marker); Kinney County Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Partrick Building
Brackettville's Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building image. Click for full size.
By William F Haenn, June 13, 2007
2. Brackettville's Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Catholic Church (about 800 feet away); Filippone Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Montalvo House (approx. ¼ mile away); Military Roads in Texas (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brackettville.
 
More about this marker. Marker is mounted on the building.
 
Regarding Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building. When the Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, the new constitution provided for creation of the county governmental system. New counties could be established if 100 free male inhabitants living in an area containing at least 900 square miles petitioned the government. Counties were to be roughly 30 miles across with the county seat within 5 miles of the center. This requirement was intended to ensure that all county residents would be able to travel to the county seat to vote and return home in one day.

Named for early Texas settler, adventurer, businessman, and legislator Henry Lawrence Kinney (1814-1862), Kinney County was formed from Bexar County by authorization of the legislature in 1850.
Historic view of Kinney County's first courthouse image. Click for full size.
Kinney County Historical Commission, circa 1880s
3. Historic view of Kinney County's first courthouse
The county is nearly square, 36 miles north to south by 34 miles east to west bordering Mexico on the Rio Grande at its southwest corner.

Two years later in 1852, near the center of the new county, adjacent to Las Moras Spring, the U.S. Army established Fort Clark to protect travelers and Oscar B. Brackett opened a stage stop, freight office and dry goods store to service the traffic on the “lower road” from San Antonio to El Paso.

By the 1870’s Fort Clark’s satellite community of Brackett had become fairly notorious for its abundance of saloons, gambling dens, brothels and generally lawless character. The town was a sanctuary for all manner of desperados, low-lifes, and opportunists, all come to separate the soldiers from their pay. It was high-time the county seat became a more respectable center of legitimate commerce and, to wary settlers, a place of law, order, and civility. For that noble purpose, Kinney County’s first recorded public meeting took place in a schoolroom in the old O.B. Brackett home on January 27th, 1873.

It was during these early meetings in the schoolroom that there was discussion of the need for a suitable site for a courthouse which would be very imposing and command a good view of the town and surrounding country. Towards that end, on October 1st, 1874, the Commissioner’s Court began meeting on the 2nd floor of
Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building serving as U.S. Post Office. image. Click for full size.
By Picture Postcard, 1954
4. Las Moras Masonic Lodge Building serving as U.S. Post Office.
1911 Courthouse is visible to the right rear.
the James Cornell building at the corner of Post Street [now Ann Street] and Spring Street. Conveniently, there was a saloon on the first floor.

The first permanent courthouse in a county was usually a simple yet elegant two-story building with courtroom upstairs and county offices downstairs. Plans for Kinney County’s first courthouse, following this standard, began on July 22nd 1878. The new building, located on a lot across Cook Alley from the Kartes and Co. building, was accepted by the County on March 8th, 1879. The 1879 courthouse was in use for 32 years, until 1911. The building subsequently served as the U.S. Post Office and is now owned by the Las Moras Masonic Lodge No. 444.
 
Categories. Fraternal or Sororal Organizations
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2012, by William F Haenn of Fort Clark (Brackettville), Texas. This page has been viewed 593 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 19, 2012, by William F Haenn of Fort Clark (Brackettville), Texas. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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