Fez Friday, Abdallah Shrine

All Shriners are Masons

Greetings my Brothers!

This is Eric Morabito, “The Walking Man,” checking back in on Fez Friday.


Abdallah Shrine

On March 28, 1887, the Abdallah Shrine was founded and chartered on June 20 in Leavenworth, Kansas. The first question is why Leavenworth would be the home of the first Shrine in Kansas. This can be traced back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which reported that the site would be a great fort to support western expansion after camping on the east bank of the Missouri River. In 1827 Colonel Henry Leavenworth established the fort that bears his name, and a city sprang up immediately south of the fort. Masonic lodges mainly chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri began operation within a few years.

Fez gifted by James Lyle of the Midian Shrine, Wichita, KS

On March 17, 1856, the Grand Lodge of Kansas was established from three lodges operating in the eastern Kansas territory, one of which would be Leavenworth Number 2. By 1887 there were four lodges operating in Leavenworth, Leavenworth number 2, King Solomon number 10, Calvary number 50, and Hiram number 68. There were three other lodges operating within ten miles. These were 9 Mile Lodge operating in Lansing, a town 9 miles south of the front gate of Fort Leavenworth, Easton Lodge number 45 about the same distance west, and Winfield Scott Hancock Lodge number 311 operating on Fort Leavenworth. There were very active York Rite bodies in Leavenworth, Council number 1, Chapter number 2, and Commandery number 1 of Kansas, plus a Scottish Rite forming on Fort Leavenworth. In October 1886, the Templar Masons decided it was time to form a temple of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

On November 11, 1886, they petitioned the Imperial Grand Council for a dispensation to open a Temple with Richard A. Ketner as Potentate. On March 28, 1887, the Imperial Chief Rabban met with twenty-four Sir Knights at the Leavenworth Masonic temple, and he conferred the degree of the Order. On April 29, they met as a temple conducted elections. Noble Richard A. Ketner called the meeting to order and appointed Noble Lamartine Cretors as Secretary. The first officers of Abdallah Temple were: Richard A. Ketner, Grand Potentate; Dwight Byington, Chief Rabban; Colonel Carle A. Woodruff, Assistant Rabban; Tullius C. Tupper, High Priest and Prophet; Edward W. Osgood, Oriental Guide; John M. Laing, Treasurer; Lamartine Cretors, Recorder; William B. Fletcher, First Ceremonial master; Edward Jacobson, Second Ceremonial Master; Frank S. Hastings, Marshall; Thomas E. Conklin, Captain of the Guard; Rudolph Jost, Outer Guard. Abdallah was responsible for the entire state.

Postcard depicting the Abdallah Temple in Leavenworth, Kansas, credit: Wendy Rae Waszut-Barrett, PhD

On May 13, the chartering class of nobility brought another eight nobles into the Shrine. These thirty-two became the charter members of Abdallah Shriners. The first class was led by Colonel Arthur McArthur, the commander of the Infantry Regiment stations on Fort Leavenworth, joining Colonel Woodruff, who commanded the Artillery Regiment and was the founding master of Hancock Lodge. Abdallah would initiate over 8,600 nobles in its first fifty years.

Woodruff and McArthur were both active masons as well as career soldiers. They made Abdallah unique in that its founding members included two men who had been awarded the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for bravery. The Woodruff family has an unbroken line of two hundred years of West Point officers, and McArthur was the father of General of the Armies Douglas McArthur. Another prominent local mason, John Atwood, would join the Shrine within a few years. Noble Atwood was a leading lawyer known regionally and nationally for his political work as a top spokesman for William Jennings Byrans’ presidential campaign in 1896 and three appearances before the Supreme Court. Atwood is also unique in Shrinedom, having served twenty years as Abdallah’s Potentate while also going up the Imperial Line to do as Imperial Potentate in 1900.

In 1909, the Foot Patrol was the first unit in Abdallah, followed by a hundred-member marching band, chanters, and a wide variety of other units. The Shriners moved out of the Leavenworth Lodge about the same time into a neoclassical style temple located on Shawnee Street. They also established a large public park south of Leavenworth. As it was initially known, the Shriners Park included a small lake, picnic areas, a baseball field, and eventually a golf course. Some parts of this exist today along Shrine Park Road in Leavenworth. Over time the population center for the Greater Kansas City, Kansas area moved south from Leavenworth and resulted in a vote in 1954 to relocate to Kansas City, Kansas. The trend continued, and in 1977 it was decided to move again to the south into Overland Park, Kansas. From 1977 until 1980, Abdallah met in rented facilities. The current temple was completed and dedicated on June 28, 1981. Abdallah now meets at 5300 Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.

History submitted by Noble Herb Merrick of the Abdallah Shrine

Bro. Eric Morabito
The Walking Man
Junior Deacon, Adonai Lodge #718 in Highland, New York
Noble, Cyprus Shrine in Glenmont, New York

Eric Morabito