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Reprinted with the gracious permission of the author, Randon Reaves, Chairman of the Houston Masonic Library and Museum.  Please do visit their website.



The very interesting story:

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's Masonic Apron

My name is Randon Reaves and I just love to research obscure parts of Texas History. This is a story about just such obscure research on a part of Texas History.

In June of 2007, while I was visiting Morten Masonic Lodge in Richmond Texas where my good friend Tony Hernandez was being installed as Worshipful Master, I was touring the lodge, looking at the old pictures on the walls, when I saw a picture that stood out. Most of the pictures were of old buildings and scenes that held Masonic significance to the Lodge but this was different.

This was a picture of an unusual Masonic apron. I did not recognize the apron as one used by any Lodge I had visited. It looked hand made. After asking several of the members present, "What was in this picture?". "Oh, that's a photograph of Santa Anna's Masonic Apron" I was told.

I had never heard of Santa Anna having a Masonic Apron or for that matter his ever having been a Mason.

I asked if anyone knew anything about the apron or if they knew where it was and no one seemed to know anything about it except they thought it was on one of the ranches in the area. I was told that Santa Anna attended Lodge meetings in that area and this was the apron he wore.

I decided that I would search for Santa Anna's Masonic Apron and maybe, just maybe there might be some interesting things I could learn.

After several months of calling and visiting prominent local ranches, Libraries and Museums, asking countless historians and calling quite a few Masonic Lodges in the south Texas area, no one seemed to have any knowledge of the Apron, its location or even of its existence.

One Masonic historian I bumped into told me he thought there was something in the Grand Lodge Museum about it. A search of the archives of the Museum and Library of Grand Lodge of Texas turned up an article published in the Texas Mason Magazine in 1934 where three men, with the last name of Stiles visited a lodge in Clarksville Texas with what they claimed was Santa Anna's Masonic Apron.

They said the Apron was given by Santa Anna to a man named John Stiles who was assigned as his guard by Sam Houston. Probably not to prevent his escape, but to prevent him from being killed.

The article also said the Apron was owned by a descendent of John Stiles who lived in Broken Bow Oklahoma.

I called the Chamber of Commerce in Broken Bow Oklahoma and a very nice female voice answered the phone. I told her that I was with a Masonic Library and Museum in Houston Texas and that I was looking for Santa Anna's Masonic Apron. She said "You are looking for WHAT?".

I told her again that I was looking for Santa Anna's Masonic Apron. Silence, "Who is Santa Anna?" I realized that I was not speaking with someone familiar with Texas history so I knew I had to explain.

I explained to her that Texas and Mexico had this little conflict just east of Houston and they got into a big fight, the Texan General was named Sam Houston and the Mexican General was named Santa Anna. She was quiet for a while and then said "And just when did THIS happen?".

"WHO did you say you were again?.......Look here ..... I don't think I can help you... but, if this has anything to do with History you probably need to speak with the head of our local Historical Society, Lewis Stiles".

Hmmm ... Lewis Stiles, It couldn't be that easy could it?

Lewis Stiles, a rather unassuming gentleman answered the phone. I explained to him who I was and that I was looking for Santa Anna's Masonic Apron. He said "I've got it".. I told him again, I am with the Houston Masonic Library and Museum and I am looking for Santa Anna's Masonic Apron. He said "I've got it".

After the third time I asked him he started to laugh. I was not sure I was hearing correctly after such a long time of asking that question of so many people.

I drove to Broken Bow, Oklahoma and had a very nice visit with Lewis Stiles. Lewis related to me the family tradition as he knew it of how the Apron was given to his great, great, great, great, great grandfather and that it had been passed down through each succeeding generation according to John Stiles instructions which were, the apron would go to the oldest Stiles, in the succeeding generation who was a Mason. And those instructions have been carried out. Lewis Stiles son is a Mason and is set to receive the Apron when his time comes.

The whereabouts or even the existence of Santa Anna's Masonic Apron has been widely debated, and mostly only rumored in the Masonic historical community until now.

For the historical community, the more details of the origin of an item and details of its authentication, the more comfortable everyone is.

Finding the Apron was a very enjoyable task and meeting and visiting Lewis Stiles was indeed an honor for me.