The History of Rochester Chapter 193
This is a brief history of Rochester Chapter 193, OES, as previously published in our 75th anniversary book in 1983.
It was the very early part of 1900, seventy-five years ago. It was the day when the horse was still before the carriage, although some venturesome folk were trying out a contraption without a horse. The incandescent bulb as winning the venture with the lamp. The telephone was a fairly common gadget, though it had it’s doubters still. Our highways were just plain roads. Those gifted with voices formed foursomes called Barber Shop Quartets and were singing uproariously, “My Wild Irish Rose”. William McKinley occupied the White House and S.P. Fowler was Mayor of Rochester, known as the Queen City. It was the year when women wore long sleeves and frills, while the bustle had shrunk to a mere suggestion. The men wore high buttoned coats and tight trousers, and the beard was not uncommon. A derby was the topper of the day. The age was still Victorian, as it seemed to always have been. Another hundred years had drawn to a close, a new day was breaking, and a new age was just ahead. By the year 1900 Rochester was known far and wide as an outstanding medical center having the famous Mayo Clinic and association of Brothers Will and Charlie at it’s head.
Masonry was established in Rochester in the early days of 1858.
For the first fifty years of the life of the city, it’s social affairs were more or less controlled by the leaders in Masonry. To surrender this prestige to an organization of women would be venturing on unknown seas. The Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and its officers had made many efforts before the institution was accomplished. It had also been discussed in 1901 amongh the Masons in Rochester. They finally decided to send applications to the wives of all Masons in the city to ascertain their sentiments. Still no action; then on August 11, 1904 it was revived again and an articled appeared in the Olmsted Democrat as follows:
“Rochester is about the only city of any size in the state which does not have an auxillary to the Masonic Lodge, and the need of one here is acknowledged, hoping it will not be delayed and will soon be in a flourishing state of success.”
For some unknown reason, opposition still persisted, perhaps the principle reason being fear of loss of social prestige and the inability to control or dictate its activities. Finally, in the Post and Record of December 17, 1907 an article appeared:
“An auxillary to the Masonic Lodge is about to be started here. The first real work in that direction was the appointment of a committee consisting of the following gentlemen: D.W.A. Allen, John MacRae, and W.W. Churchill. These men to give the subject the attention it deserves so that the lodge will undoubtedly not hesitate to enroll their names among the charter members, as this lodge is one of the most extensive social orders in the world.”
The records of Aurora Chapter #109 in of Eyota, dated August 9, 1904 stated that a letter from the Grand Secretary advised them that plans were underway for the organization of a Chapter in Rochester. A resolution was placed on their records that Aurora Chapter would be pelased to assist in any way to bring this about.
It was agreed that Aurora Chapter would confer the degrees upon a sufficient number of those who were eligible so that Rochester could apply for a Charter. January 28, 1908 was the date selected by Aurora Chapter for conferring the degrees upon our candidates. On the afternoon of that date, a party of twelve journeyed to Eyota.
Four members of the party, Mr. & Mrs. A.T. Stebbins, Past Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota, Mrs. Mabel Weber, Dr. & Mrs. A.W. Stinchfield, Dr. O.C. Heyerdale, Master of Rochester Lodge #21, and Mrs. W.W. Churchill. The last eight named together with Mrs. Flora Allen presented their applications to Aurora Chapter for membership. The reception committee from Aurora Chapter greeted them upon arrival at the train and escorted them to the Eyota Hotel, the Everett House, where at six o’clock, a splendid dinner was served.
An excerpt from the Post and Record, dated Friday, February 14, 1908 contained the following article:
“Eastern Star Chapter instituted by Worthy Grand Patron E.C. Patterson
The Order of the Eastern Star is now an established lodge in this city. The Rochester Chapter was instituted Wednesday night by WGP E.C. Patterson, assisted by WGM Evelyn Gould. The ceremony was preceded by a banquet in the Masonic Hall at 6:30. Then followed the ceremony of initiation. This work, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, were performed by the Eyota Chapter, Miss Lucy Styles, Worthy Matron.
There were eleven candidates for initiation. There could easily have been many more anxious to join the Order. However, the number allowed for initiation at any one time is limited for a lodge working under dispensation. The Rochester Chapter has not attained a Charter yet, and cannot do so until a meeting of the Grand Chapter next May.”
And so, after years of waiting and anticipation, Rochester Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star is a realization. At a meeting of the Grand Chapter the following May 14, 1908, the Charter was recieved and granted.
When Rochester Chapter was intituted in 1908 we followed the guide lines set up in 1868 by our founder Rob Morris, Poet Laureate. The Masonic Lodge was honored by a visit from Rob Morris in 1869. Rochester Chapter observes and honors his memory by having a special Rob Morris night on the first meeting in September.
In our 75 years of history, 1518 members have signed our record books, included in this number we record 58 charter members. We lost the last of our charter members by the passing of Nina Churchill Buur, PM at the age of 101 years. A fifty year pin is given to each member in recognition of their 50 years of faithful service to our order.
Many personal gifts have been given to our Chapter over the years. A complete list is recorded in the memorial book kept in the memorial stand at the entrance to the Chapter room.
Money making project by Worthy Matrons, officers, and members have consisted of harvest sales, salad luncheons, cook books, farmers market, rummage sales, bakeless food sales, card parties, appointment calendars, crafts, dances, and hundreds of dinners and luncheons.
We have, though the years, contributed to each Worthy Grand Matrons project. To name one in particular would be the ESTARL fund.
The Irene Gordon Cheer Committee, assisted by many willing workers, have visited our shut-in members with fruit baskets and flowering plants as Christmas and Easter, and made numerous visits to the rest homes and individual homes through the years, bringing invaluable cheer to many.
Recognition of our 50th, 60th, and 75th anniversaries were observed by special programs and banquets, and were attended by many from district chapters and a host of distinguished guests.
Histories of the Chapter have been recorded by Nettie Berg in 1938, Ida Harkness in 1945, Bertha Cowan in 1958 and 1965, Carolyn Loutsenheiser in 1973, and Dorthy Kreter in 1982.
Rochester Chapter #193 was privileged to host the Grand Chapter session in 1977, 1980, and 1983.
In 1916 the Masonic Temple burned and all Eastern Star records were destroyed.
Many visitors have commented on the beauty of our Chapter’s marches used at each meeting. They were designed by a visitor from Florida, who measured our Chapter room, returned to her home in Florida, and in due time submitted marches for our Chapter approval. They were approved, and were used for the first time by Worthy Matron Mrs. Charles Ledder in 1934, and are in use today.
In 1958 a gift from the Rochester Masonic Lodge of a large white Bible was presented to Rochester Chapter #193 by Roy Chadwick, Past Master and Past Grand Patron, OES in honor of their Golden Anniversary. The acceptance, on behalf of the Chapter, was given by Mrs. A.D. Hagen, Worthy Matron. Recorded in this Bible are the signatures of all Worthy Matrons and Worthy Patrons for the last 25 years, and it graces our Altar on special occasions and at each meeting night.
As we celebrate our Diamond Jubilee, we ask how best we can preserve our heritage and rededicate our lives to the work of our beautiful order today and for all tomorrows.