2018 marks the 170th year since Tannehill Masonic Lodge was established in what is now Dallas, Texas. As we continue our series highlighting the Masonic and civic pioneers of this great City, we turn the spotlight to brother John, C. McCoy.
Tannehill Lodge #52’ s first secretary and Master of the lodge in 1852 and 1864 and he was also treasurer from 1878-1886 inclusive. He was born on September 28, 1819 in Clark County Indiana. As a deputy circuit clerk of Clark county from 1837 to 1839 he studied law in his spare time. In May of 1841 he received his license to practice. He moved to Dallas in the spring of 1845 as a surveyor for the Peters Colony, which grew out of an act of congress by The Republic of Texas in 1841 to encourage immigration. It was located upon the territory which now includes the greater part of Dallas. He severed his connection with the company in 1846 but remained a citizen of Dallas for the remainder of his life. He was the first active lawyer to settle in Dallas and was considered the founder of the Dallas Bar Association.
In 1851 he married Cora M. McDermott, the daughter of J.H. McDermott, a member of Tannehill Lodge. In 1852 he built the first framed home in Dallas on the west side of the public square where he lived until the death of his wife who died in childbirth in 1853. He never married again. He then moved to the corner of Harwood and Main St. It is said that after the death of his wife and child he walked alone in the shadow of his sorrow until his own death. Not having a family of his own he contributed to the raising of others, including the orphan children of his sister. It is said that children of all races were seen playing around his house.
During The early months of the Civil War he was assigned to the duty of mustering officer for the Confederate Regiments by Nathaniel M. Buford. He was one of the organizers of Dallas Commandery #6 Knights Templar and served as its commander in 1857 and from 1860-1869 inclusive and once more in 1882. Thirteen years in all. He was grand Commander in 1861 and 1863 and Right Imminent Grand Commander in 1883. In a tablet presented to Miss Elisa McCoy from Dallas Commandery #6 K.T. it is stated
“NO Mason in Texas can forget his zeal for masonry. When Wars and dissention occurred between the north and the south, when every Christian social and benevolent in this state was disrupted, and in many instances abandoned, your honored brother, Sir Knight John C. McCoy at his own expense paid chapter, personal, lodge, and Commandery dues for members and kept the lights burning on the alters of Freemasonry in Texas.”
No mason whoever knew him did not love him and his grand character. His kind consideration of every destitute mason, widow or orphan have so endeared him to mason and his benevolent kindness have photographed his memory in the hearts of every member of the order.
When he died on April 30, 1887 he was interred in his home for four days. It is said that hundreds of people of all races came through to pay their respects and no one left with a dry eye. The funeral procession was witnessed by thousands. He is buried in The Tannehill Masonic Cemetery.
It is said of Brother McCoy that he was more widely known among Masons in Texas than any other man and conferred more orders of the Temple than any other Sir Knight. McCoy Street in Dallas is named in his honor.