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SONS OF HERMANN

SONS OF HERMANN. The Order of the Sons of Hermann in the state of Texas (also known as Hermann Sons) was the largest fraternal insurance benefit society headquartered in Texas; its home offices were in San Antonio in 1994, when its 161 lodges had a membership of 80,000. From the time of its founding in San Antonio on July 6, 1861, until 1920, the Texas order was part of a national order of the Sons of Hermann. A few men of German descent organized the order in New York City in 1840, naming it for Hermann the Defender, an early German hero known also as Arminius. By 1848 there were six Sons of Hermann groups with 800 members in the United States, and, on December 25, 1848, a national grand lodge was formed in Milwaukee. In 1861 two representatives of the national grand lodge came to San Antonio to organize the first Hermann Sons lodge in Texas, Harmonia Lodge No. 1. It was natural for the organization to find fertile soil in San Antonio, since many Germans had come to the area after 1845. On March 27, 1890, the Texas grand lodge was formed, consisting of Harmonia Lodge of San Antonio and seven other newly formed lodges in Austin, Taylor, Temple, Waco, La Grange, Brenham, and Houston. These eight lodges had a total of 242 members. Within a year ninety-two more lodges were formed. In 1896 the first sister lodge, exclusively for women, was dedicated at Sherman. In 1920 the first mixed lodge for both men and women was established in San Antonio, and that trend has continued. Currently, the order has family lodges as well as single-sex lodges. In 1920 the Order of the Sons of Hermann in Texas, which by then was financially stronger and had more members than all of the lodges in the rest of the United States combined, broke away from the national order of the Sons of Hermann and became autonomous and independent of the national group. Complete transition from the German language to the English language by the Texas order was begun early in the 1930s and completed by 1937. Originally all of the members were of German extraction, but by 1965 only about half were, and by 1994 membership was open to all ethnic groups. Since 1916 the order has maintained a retirement home at Comfort, Texas, and since 1954 it has operated its own summer youth camps for junior members on its campgrounds in Comfort. Local lodges offer scholarship opportunities to the youth in their communities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Hermann Sons News, June 1990, April 1991. Sons of Hermann, 100th Anniversary, Harmonia Lodge No. 1, Order of the Sons of Hermann in the State of Texas (San Antonio: Harmonia Lodge No. 1, 1961).

Fritz Schilo

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Fritz Schilo, "SONS OF HERMANN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/vns01), accessed September 03, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.