Filmed in Glorious Masoniscope?
Frederick Douglass's 1852 Independence Day Oration

Twelve Mighty Orphans

Looking for an engaging yet quick read this summer?  How about something that combines sports and Freemasonry?

Sportswriter Jim Dent covered the Dallas Cowboys for 11 years. While in Texas he never heard of the Masonic Home, in fact he first learned about them half-listening to a story about an old football player on ESPN.  Something about it got his attention though and the next day he headed for Fort Worth and began researching the recently closed Masonic Home, Hardy Brown, coach Rusty Russell and and an entire team of underdogs that played in some of the biggest games in Texas high school history.

Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Might Mites Who Ruled Texas Football tells the story.  Dent details how this small band of orphans in the middle of the Depression, a bunch of underweight, under-equipped kids went on to beat larger, better funded, and much better-equipped schools during the 1930's and 1940's.  It's a great, true story.

Masonic_homeAdditional background information about the Masonic Home and School of Texas may be found in our copy of Robert L. Dillard's 1973 history of the orphanage (image at left is from the cover).  Dillard, a former President of the Board of Directors there, provides a detailed history of the institution that opened its doors in 1900.  While there is only brief mention of sports of any kind and a short note in the chronology for 1942 that "H.N. "Rusty" Russell, long-time Principal and coach, left the Home", it provides some background for Dent's more focused story.

Full information for both books follows:

Dent, Jim.  Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football.  New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007.
Call number: 42 .D46 2007

Dillard, Robert L.  History of Masonic Home & School of Texas.  Fort Worth: Masonic Home and School, 1973.
Call number: 42 .D578 1973

And, as suggested by the comment below, see also an interesting look at the Masonic Home and the integral part athletics played in it, in

Vaughn, William Preston, "Masonic Home and School of Texas, 1920-1940: The Glory Days" in A Daily Advancement in Masonic Knowledge: The Collected Blue Friar Lectures.  Bloomington, IL: The Masonic Book Club, 2003.  Call number:  61 .D133 2003



Thanks very much for pointing out this useful reference. I just pulled it from our shelves and will add the citation to the post. I also think we'll re-catalog it as I see there's lots of good information contained within that isn't easily accessible.

If you've read the Dent book, what did you think?

S. Brent Morris

At the 58th annual Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars in 2002, William Preston Vaughn, BF, presented his Blue Friar Lecture, "Masonic Home and School of Texas, 1920-1940: The Glory Days," in which he touches briefly on the "Mighty Mites." His paper was published in Wallace McLeod and S. Brent Morris, eds., "A Daily Advancement in Masonic Knowledge: The Collected Blue Friar Lectures" (Bloomington, Ill.: Masonic Book Club, 2003).

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