Order of the Sons of Hermann founded
On this day in 1861, the Order of the Sons of Hermann in the State of Texas was founded in San Antonio. It was the largest fraternal insurance benefit society headquartered in Texas, with a membership of 80,000 in 161 lodges in 1994. Until 1920, the Texas order was part of a national order of the Sons of Hermann. 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. The Texas grand lodge, consisting of Harmonia Lodge of San Antonio and seven other newly formed lodges in Austin, Taylor, Temple, Waco, La Grange, Brenham, and Houston, was formed in 1890. 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. In that year 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. 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.