Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dr. Rob Morris - Poet Laureate of Freemasonry

Dr. Rob Morris
Dr. Rob Morris was a prominent American poet and Freemason. He also created the first ritual for what was to become the Order of the Eastern Star.

Early life

Many references state that Rob Morris was born on August 31, 1818, near Boston, Massachusetts. However, there is some evidence that he was born Robert Williams Peckham, in New York, and that he adopted the name of his foster parents after the death of his birth parents, later shortening his name to Rob to avoid confusion with another poet named Robert Morris. He grew up in New York, where he (apparently) also went to college.
He worked as a teacher for 10 years before moving to Oxford, Mississippi, where he continued teaching at Mount Sylvan Academy, a school established by Freemasons. While living in Oxford, he met Charlotte Mendenhall, whom he married on August 26, 1841.

Eastern Star

The Red School Bulding
Birthplace of OES
After he became a Mason on March 5, 1846, he became convinced that there needed to be a way for female relatives of Masons to share in some measure in the benefits of Freemasonry. While teaching at the Eureka Masonic College ("The Little Red Brick School Building") in Richland, Mississippi in 1849-1850, he wrote Eastern Star's first ritual, titled The Rosary of the Eastern Star. He organized a "Supreme Constellation" in 1855 to charter Star chapters. In 1866, because of his planned travel abroad, he handed over the organizational authority of Eastern Star to Robert Macoy.
The "Little Red Brick School Building in Mississippi" is owned by the Grand Chapter of Mississippi and is maintained as a Shrine in honor of Dr. Morris' writing of the Ritual in Mississippi.
He later served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky in 1858-9.Upon given a job as professor of the Masonic University, he moved to La Grange, Kentucky in 1860.


Over the years, he wrote over 400 poems, many of which were devoted to Eastern Star and Masonry. While traveling in the Holy Land, he wrote the words to the hymn "O Galilee". In 1854, he wrote "The Level and the Square", which may be his best-known poem.

Poet Laureate

Because of his many works on Masonic subjects, on December 17, 1884, he was crowned the "Poet Laureate of Freemasonry", an honor which had not been granted since the death of Robert Burns in 1796.


Morris Memorial
His health began to fail in 1887, and in June 1888, he became paralyzed. He died on July 31, 1888, and is buried at La Grange, Kentucky. The Rob Morris Home is kept as a shrine to Rob Morris by the Kentucky Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. When the news of his death was sent to all parts of the world, profound grief was expressed at his passing as his whole life had been devoted to the uplifting of humanity. He was buried in the cemetery in La Grange, Kentucky, where admiring friends from all over the world have erected a tall marble shaft in his memory. On one side of the shaft is the Square and Compasses and on the other side is the Five Pointed Star.