St Mary's Council #1235
P.O. Box 251 2201 East Fourth Street Taylor, TX, 76574 (512) 352-9077
The history of the Knights of Columbus in Texas tells us that the first council was founded in El Paso in 1902. Others rapidly followed in the larger cities and towns and on May 19, 1907, the first of the "rural councils," the Windthorst Council 1235, was chartered at Taylor, Texas. Of these, only twelve others have the distinction of having had a 100 year anniversary celebration.
The town of Taylorsville was established at the crossing of two major railroads in 1876. "An influx of settlers from Czechoslovakia and other Slavic states, as well as from Germany and Austria helped establish the town." In 1878, there were 1,000 residents, 32 businesses, and the newly constructed St. Mary's Catholic Mission. By 1940, Taylor, as it was renamed in 1892, had 7,875 residents and 225 businesses with newspapers in Czech, German, and English.
Most of the new members of the Windthorst Council of the Knights of Columbus were either immigrants or the sons of immigrants. Although there is no official documentation, it is believed the council was named for Ludwig Windthorst, a prominent German Roman Catholic political leader of the 19th Century, the founder of an organization aimed at the unification of German Catholics and the defense of Roman Catholic interests. In 1989, the name Windthorst Council was changed to the Taylor Council. This alleviated some confusion as there is a Windthorst Council in Windthorst, Texas, also named after Ludwig Windthorst.
In 1907, there were only 12 other councils in the entire state. The closest neighbors were Austin to the south; Dallas, north; El Paso, west; and Houston-Beaumont to the east. Taylor knights actively recruited new members in Temple, Waco, and Cameron and even had one member from as far away as West, Texas. Growth was phenomenal. New initiations were common. At a meeting on February 7, 1908, 30 new members were approved. The Taylor Council grew and prospered. A Fourth Degree Assembly was established, members became district and state officers, Taylor hosted the state convention of the Knights of Columbus in 1927, again in 1935, and was scheduled again in 1945, but the convention was cancelled because of the war effort. Nationally, there were 75,268 Knights of Columbus members in the armed services. Awards were common for the Taylor Council, among them being back to back recipients of the prestigious star council award.
As other councils were established in Waco, Temple, Cameron, and Granger, their initial memberships were largely composed of transfers from the Taylor Council. All councils can be proud of their awards and accomplishments, but few can claim to be so instrumental in pioneering the spread of Columbianism to such a large part of the state.
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