(Taken from the Louisiana Freemason, October 2004)

RM Crowson

R.M. Crowson Lodge No. 281 was granted a dispensation by M:W: Robert H. Gage, Grand Master, on May 16, 1902, to be located at Castor, LA. Bienville Parish through R:W: A.L. Atkins, D.D.G.M., Ninth Masonic District. The officers, U.D. were: W.L. Joyner, W.M.; S.T. Neal, S.W.; A.J. Neal, J.W.; C.W. Campbell, Treas.; and W.A. Sullivan, Secy. The Lodge was chartered on February 3, 1903, M:W: Robert R. Reid, Grand Master.

The Lodge was named after Richard Moore Crowson, the son of Richard Thomas Crowson and Sarah Crowson. He was born on December 20, 1812 in Madison County, near Huntsville, Alabama. While he was very young, his family moved to Shelby County, near Birmingham, Alabama. His father died on November 6, 1826 when young Crowson was only 14 years old. Edward and Sally Mahan were appointed guardians and served in that capacity until 1830 when the guardianship passed to John Mahan. His own resourcefulness enabled him to acquire a reasonable education.

He was converted in 1830 at a camp meeting, and joined the Methodist Church. After teaching school for two years, he surrendered to the ministry and was admitted into the Alabama Methodist Conference on a trial basis in December 1833. He was received in full connection in December 1835 and was ordained a deacon by Bishop Soule.

In 1836 he married Frances Amana McGowen, daughter of John and Keziah McGowen, in Winston County, Mississippi. To this union were born four children; two girls and two boys. In 1845 he was assigned to the Louisiana Monroe Circuit and there after remained in the Louisiana Conference. His wife, Frances, died in Minden, Louisiana in 1850, and her brother John McGowen, took the little boys to Polk County, Texas.

Bro. Crowson married Elizabeth A. Wilson of Claiborne Parish in 1851, and to this union were born five children. In 1860 he served the Sparta Circuit and in 1862 spent nine months in the Confederate States Army as a chaplain in the 28th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.

According to W: Dr. H. Glen Jordan, P.M., author of the book, Louisiana Masonic History, Let There Be Light, who grew up in the area, and who still owns property in Bienville Parish, said a line was drawn north and south and east to west to locate the center of the parish. Thus Sparta, became the Parish seat, which produced a fair size town, a courthouse, stores, churches, and a Masonic Lodge, Sparta No. 108. Shortly after the Civil War the Lodge had eighty plus members. The area of Sparta is very sandy and is one of the few places in Louisiana where cactus grows wild.

Economics, progress, and fate were all factors in the demise of the Town of Sparta. The east-west railroad was located in the northern part of the parish. The population of the town followed the railroad. On a dark night in January 1893, six wagon-loads of men entered the Town of Sparta. The wagons were backed up to the windows of the Courthouse and the men loaded them with the Parish Record Books which they hauled to Arcadia, the site of the Courthouse to this day. All that was left was the furniture and the safe. The only evidence of Sparta is the Old Sparta Cemetery.

The remainder of his active service in the ministry was spent in the Sparta and surrouding area. He retired to his home in Sparta, where he died on April 27, 1885. He and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in the Old Sparta Cemetery.

Your author does not know where Bro. Crowson received his degrees in Freemasonry. It could have been in Alabama or Mississippi, before he came to Louisiana. He affiliated with Sparta Lodge No. 108 in 1864, and was elected Worshipful Master in 1867. He was elected Treasurer in 1872 and served in that capacity until the charter was surrendered in 1881. He became a Life Member of Sparta Lodge No. 108 in 1874.

Castor is a small town in south Bienville Parish. Driskill Mountain, 535 feet high and the highest point in the State of Louisiana in located within its boundaries.

During the Lodge's existence there were three different buildings in which the Lodge met. The original building was located behind the Castor Methodist Church. In 1929 a new brick building was contructed over the Castor State Bank. The bank failed and the space was occupied by the U.S. Post Office. In 1985, the Malt Shop, which was attached to the Lodge portion of the building, caught fire, and the entire structure was destroyed. A new one-story brick building was constructed by the brethren across the street from the Methodist Church. M:W: Ray W. Burgess, Grand Master, laid the cornerstone and dedicated the structure on October 6, 1985.

R.M. Crowson Lodge No. 281 was the Mother Lodge of M:W: Dr. E.R. Minchew, Grand Master in 1977.

On Easter Sunday, April 23, 2000 a tornado damaged much of the Town of Castor including the Methodist Church. The Lodge building was used as a meeting place for the church while its building was being repaired.

R.M. Crowson was an excellent choice for the name of the new Lodge at Castor.

Proceedings, Grand Lodge, 1966-1869, 1872-1880, 1886, 1903-1904, 1932, and 1985.
North Louisiana Historical Assoc. Journal, Jones, Terry L., Vol. IX, 1978.
Guide to Louisiana Confederate Units, 1861-1865. Bergeron, Arthur W., Jr., 1989.
Dr. H. Glen Jordan
Leslie L. Crowson
George H. Jacob

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