Many pioneers belonged to the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, an order active in education. Among Masons settling in this area by 1845 were Republic of Texas leaders William Clark, James Gaines, D.S. Kaufman, Willis H. Landrum, and F.M. Weatherred.
The Rev. Littleton Fowler (1803-46), a Mason, opened in 1845 in this county the Midway Institute, which was soon absorbed by Red Mount Seminary. Set to work at Red Mount (Milam), 1847, was Jackson Lodge No. 35, A.F. & A.M., with John Boyd, G.A. Norford, A.D. Oliphint, O.J. Polley, and J.T. Scruggs as officers. The lodge soon operated the Milam Masonic Institute, successor to the earlier schools. On the charter application (1853) M.M.I. was listed as already "a flourishing school."
Later, Sexton Lodge No. 251, A.F. & A.M., operated M.M.I., a great contributor to East Texas culture until tax-funded education became universal in the 1870s.
Among supporters of M.M.I. were Masons with the family names Anderson, Causey, Davis, Deweese, Dorsey, Elliott, Gellately, Halbert, Harper, Harris, Jacks, Low, McCloskey, McGown, McMahan, Mason, Nethery, Noble, Pratt, Reeves, Renfro, Sanders, Slaughter, Smith, Speights, Sweet, Tucker, Vickers, Watson, White, Whittlesey, Williams, and Yeiser.