Our History

OES Origins

The origins of the Order of the Eastern Star dates back to the mid-19th century. Dr. Rob Morris was a Freemason, Master Mason and Poet Laureate of Masonry, who made it is his mission to share the principles of Masonry with women. He and his wife, Charlotte Mendenhall Morris, developed the concepts and beliefs that formed the foundation for the Order of the Eastern Star.

OES Foundation

The foundation of the Order utilizes beautiful and inspiring Biblical examples of heroic conduct and moral values. These portray the noble principles which should adorn the personal lives of all Eastern Star members. Eastern Star strives to build an environment for our members, and our Order, that is truly dedicated to Charity, Truth, and Loving Kindness by uplifting each other and through service in our local communities.

The real origin of the Order of the Eastern Star, like Masonry, will always be shrouded in mystery. Many researchers believe it had a French origin as early as 1703. By some, this is claimed to be the first inception of “Female Masonry” or “Androgynous Degrees,” i.e., degrees for both men and women. There appeared at that time to be a demand for “Side Degrees” or Degrees conferred on ladies and quite a list sprang up: “Heroines of Jericho,” “Danger in the Dark,” “Tall Cedars of Lebanon,” and others. These were extensively used, but soon fell into decay due to lack of lasting worth.

The real origin and honor of the Eastern Star initiatory degrees belongs to Dr. Rob Morris and this origin comes under the First Era. It wasn’t until 1850, while confined to his home after an accident, that Dr. Morris fully developed the Eastern Star Degrees. During this time, he carefully thought out the symbolism, the significance of the floor plan and the corps of officers. He also established the Order’s signs and passes; the colors and emblems; and defined the fundamental principles that have remained unchanged throughout the years. The so-called mysteries of the Order were communicated freely to all Master Masons and their relatives. Dr. Morris and other prominent Master Masons gave many lectures and conferred the degrees on many ladies throughout the nation.

Dr. Rob Morris, Poet Laureate of Masonry and founder of the Order of the Eastern Star, was also never quite satisfied that all the good in Masonry should be confined to men. Dr. Morris felt that Masonry should be for the whole family, but the laws of the ancient Order of Masonry did not allow women to be eligible for its degrees. Knowing he could not change the Ancient Landmarks of Masonry, Dr. Morris sought to develop a method by which women could share with the Masonic Brothers the same inspiration that “prompts man to noble deeds” and the basis for the Order of Eastern Star was born.

The First Era of the Order of Eastern Star extended from 1850 to 1866, under Dr. Morris’ leadership. In 1850, Dr. Morris selected the Biblical heroines representing the heroic conduct, high moral values and noble principles of this fledgling Order. The Second Era extended from 1866 to 1876, under the leadership of Robert Macoy of New York. The Third Era, 1876 to the present time, saw the establishment of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. Of these Eras, the first is perhaps the most important as it prepared the way for the other two.

The first ceremony book for the Order was compiled and published under the title of “The Rosary of the Eastern Star.” In 1866, Dr. Morris became associated with Mr. Robert Macoy, who took over the planning and organization of the Order. In 1867 and 1868, Mr. Macoy compiled and published a Ritual, using Dr. Morris’ Rosary as a guide. This was the beginning of the organization of the Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star in the United States, as well as internationally. The first Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star was organized in Michigan in 1867.

While the Order of the Eastern Star has evolved over time, its tenets, ceremonies and fundamental principles have remained relatively unchanged. The Order is an active and successful worldwide fraternal, non-profit, charitable service organization with dedicated members who are making a positive difference in their local communities and ultimately, the world.

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