Knights of Pythias.On Feb. 15, 1864, five government clerks;Justus H. Rathbone, Robert A. Champion, William H. and David L. Burnett, and Edward S. Kimballmet at Washington, D. C., and took the preliminary steps toward the formation of a new fraternal society. A ritual which had been prepared by Mr. Rathbone, and which was based on the drama of Damon and Pythias, was adopted, but no organization was at that time attempted. Four days later Washington Lodge, No. 1, Knights of Pythias, was instituted, and before the close of the year it had 52 members. Franklin Lodge, No. 2, was organized a few weeks later, and on April 8 a grand lodge was established in Washington, D. C. Owing to the war, the political campaign of 1864 and other causes, the order did not prosper at first, and on Aug. 1, 1865, Franklin Lodge was the only one in existence. Then came a period of prosperity. Young men who had been discharged from the volunteer army, attracted by the social and beneficial features of the order, joined it in large numbers. The grand lodge was reorganized on May 1, 1866, and on Aug. 5, 1870, the supreme lodge was incorporated under an act of Congress, passed the previous May. About the same time the endowment rank was established on its present basis, and subsequently the uniform rank was organized.
The Knights of Pythias were introduced in Kansas by Deputy Supreme Chancellor Charles D. Lucas of Kansas City, Mo., who instituted Myrtle Lodge, No. 1, at Lawrence on April 4, 1872. Fellowship Lodge, No. 2, was organized at Wyandotte just a week later. No. 3 was organized at Leavenworth on July 26; No. 4, at Independence on Aug. 2; No. 5, at Olathe on Aug. 9. On Sept. 4, 1872, delegates from these five lodges met and organized the Kansas grand lodge, with the following officers: J. C. Welsh, grand venerable patriarch; H. J. Canniff, grand chancellor; W. A. Offenbacher, vice-grand chancellor; G. G. Lowe, grand banker; J. A. Bliss, grand recorder and scribe; M. C. Dunn, grand guide; W. C. Elder, grand inside steward; Jacob Weiss, grand outside steward.
The panic of 1873 and internal dissensions caused a slow growth for the first few years, and when the grand lodge met in its fourth annual session at Olathe in 1875 it owed about $1,000, the treasury was empty, and there were less than 400 members in good standing in the state. But the founders of the order in Kansas had faith in its principles and went to work with energy and determination to place it on a firm foundation. That they succeeded may be seen in the report of the grand lodge at the session held in Leavenworth in May, 1911, when there were 10,855 members and 168 subordinate lodges in the state, with $13,555 in the grand lodge treasury and the cash on hand held by the subordinate lodges amounted to nearly $30,000. The officers elected by the grand lodge in 1911 were: W. W. Bowers, grand chancellor; R. L. Barrick, vice-grand chancellor; A. N. Goodman, grand prelate; L. M. Hollowell, grand keeper of records and seals; Fred L. Wilcox, grand master of the exchequer; D. A. Knox, grand master at arms; Frederick Kaster, grand inner guard; William A. Duval, Frank L. Britton and C. N. Miller, supreme representatives.
Women are not admitted to the order, but an auxiliary degree called the Pythian Sisters has been established, to which the wives and daughters of Knights are eligible. The grand temple of the Pythian Sisters usually meets at the same time and place as the grand lodge. In May, 1911, the Kansas grand temple met at Leavenworth and elected officers as follows: Ella Shaw, grand chief; Mattie Webster, grand senior; Josephine Wethney, grand junior; Etta V. Downum, grand manager; Alla Hills, grand master of records and correspondence; Ruth Morse, grand master of finance; Louise Daily, grand protector; Belle Alex, grand guard. At the same time Lucy McCague was elected supreme representative.Pages 80-81 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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