The Masonic Lodge in Nacogodoches is the oldest in the state still operating in its original location. Before the organization of a Grand Lodge in Texas, Louisiana Masons granted dispensation for individual lodges here. Three lodges, Holland (No.36) of Brazoria, Milam (No 40) of Nacogdoches, and McFarland (No.41) of San Augustine, were organized in this way from 1835-37. Nacogdoches' lodge organized on August 16, 1837, honoring with its name Texas Revolutionary hero Ben Milam, who was killed during the siege of Bexar.
Original members included Isaac W. Burton, Kelsey Douglass, Haden Edwards, John H. Hyde, John W. Lowe, George A. Nixon, John S. Roberts, Adolphus Sterne and Frost Thorne. The newly constituted lodge first met in the Old Stone Fort for three consecutive nights following the chartering ceremony. Charles S. Taylor, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and Thomas J. Rusk, soldier and statesman, were initiated into the lodge that week. Many other significant men in the Republic of Texas were members of Milam Lodge. The Holland, Milam and McFarland Lodges (renumbered No. 1, 2 and 3) organized the Grand Lodge of Texas in December 1837.
Promoting education was one of the chief community activities of Freemasons in Texas; the Milam Lodge helped establish and operate Nacogdoches University in 1845. The lodge also supported several local churches and new lodges in cities across Texas. Milam Lodge met in a number of facilities over the years, using its entire building fund to buy war bonds during World War I before finally building its own home in 1931. The Milam Lodge's tradition of community service and charity continues to this day.