Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial
Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial

James Andrew Bilbro, PGM 1896-1898

James Andrew Bilbro, PGM 1896-1898

“James Andrew Bilbro, lawyer, was born February 20, 1844 at Tuskegee, Macon County; son of John Berryman and Anne Lumpkin (Rutledge) Bilbro. The former born in Surry County, Va.,
removed to Talbotton, Ga., where he married and in 1842 located in Tuskegee, was clerk of circuit court of Macon County about eighteen years, was treasurer of the county twenty-five years, which office he held at the date of his death, December 24, 1908. He was the grandson of Benjamin Bilbro, of Virginia, and of William Owen and Elizabeth (Partridge) Rutledge, the former a member of the noted Rutledge family of South Carolina, who was born May 30, 1790, in Harris County, Ga.

Judge Bilbro was educated at the Tuskegee Institute under noted teachers, one being E. M. Law, afterward a distinguished confederate general, and who with his brother, had charge of the military department of the Institute. Judge Bilbro was Captain of one of the companies in 1860 and 1861. He studied law in 1868-1870 in Tuskegee, under David Clopton, afterwards Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He began the practice, 1870, removed to Gadsden in 1889 and was County Solicitor of Macon County for six years from 1872; Mayor of Tuskegee, 1882-82; a member of the legislature, 1884-85; Judge of the 9th judicial circuit from August 1, 1894 to January 19, 1905. He was elected Judge of the 16th circuit under “Lusk bill” but did not serve, as it was declared unconstitutional. He was Judge of the city court of Gadsden, 1920-16 and a member of the board of trustees, Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn for 10 years.

In April 1861, he joined the Tuskegee light infantry, which became a part of the famous Third Alabama infantry regiment, under COL. Tennet Lomax; was in the Army of Northern Virginia until May 1862, when he was discharged on account of ill health; was then appointed lieutenant in camp of instruction and held this position until close of the war.

He was a Democrat, a Methodist, a Mason, an Odd Fellow, and a Knight of Pythias.

He married April 24, 1866 at Tuskegee, Francina A. daughter of Chancellor Wylie Washington and Matilda Warren (Catchings)Mason, the latter was born at the homestead of her grandmother, Mrs. Wilfres Catchings, in Washington, Ga., was twice married, first to COL. John C.. McNeil; and after his death to Chancellor Wylie W. Mason; granddaughter of John Clarke Mason a Welsh nobleman of Guston Hall, Wales. Children: (1) James Early (2) Mathilde (3) John B. and (4) Wylie Mason.

James Andrew Bilbro was initiated in Tuskegee Lodge Feb. 17, 1866, Passed March 3, 1866, and Raised March 17, 1866. He demitted July 1, 1889 and affiliated with Gadsden #236 Aug. 13, 1889. James Andrew Bilbro is properly recognized as the father of the Masonic Home. He entered Resolutions to establish a Masonic Orphans Home and College at the 1882 Annual Communication and was appointed to serve on a Select Committee of Five to perfect some plan to carry out the ideas of the resolution. James Andrew Bilbro died Dec. 22, 1924 at the age of 80”