The Knights of Pythias, a charitable, benevolent, and fraternal order, was established in Texas with the installation of Lodge No. 1 in Houston on March 22, 1872, only eight years after the first lodge of the order had been established in Washington, D.C. The installation of the Texas lodge was performed by Hyam Cohen of Charleston, South Carolina. Other lodges followed in quick succession; the Grand Lodge of Texas was instituted at Houston on April 6, 1874, with ten lodges participating. Alexander Ewing of Houston was named the first grand chancellor. The total membership was 397. The order expanded rapidly, but since many lodges were hastily organized, fifteen of the first twenty ceased to exist by the end of 1877. After 1878, when membership had fallen off to seven lodges with 239 members, the Grand Lodge began to rebuild on a slower, firmer basis. On April 30, 1895, the Knights of Pythias was granted a charter by the state. The zenith in number of lodges was attained in 1910 with 378, and in number of members in 1922 with 30,507. In 1942 there were 105 lodges with 9,553 members. Since 1909 the organization has maintained the Pythian Widows and Orphans Home, three miles east of Weatherford. An auxiliary order, the Grand Temple Pythian Sisters, has been in operation since the mid-1890s. Throughout the twentieth century the order continued throughout the state to operate halfway houses and other community homes. In Dallas, for example, the Knights of Pythias operated a senior citizens' home and a credit union. In the early 1990s there were approximately fifty-three lodges across the state with an estimated total of 1,700 members.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Helen B. Frantz,
“Knights of Pythias,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 1, 1995