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Rob Morris Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Rob Morris passes away in 1888.

Rob Morris was an American writer and poet.

Morris was born on August 31st, 1818 near Boston, Massachusetts. There is evidence that Morris was actually born Robert Williams Peckham in New York State. It was not until after his father passed away in 1825, his mother had passed away sometime before that, that Morris was placed in a foster home and took the name of his foster parents "Morris." Later in life when he began writing, he shortened his first name to Rob to avoid confusion with another poet named Robert Morris. It is believed that Morris went to college in New York state as well.

Morris taught school for 10 years before moving to Oxford, Mississippi to begin teaching at the Mount Sylvan Academy, a school established by Freemasons. In Oxford he met his wife and the two married in 1841.

It was after becoming a Freemason in 1846, that Morris decided that there needed to be a way for female relatives of Masons to be able to take advantage of the benefits of the fraternity. While a teacher and principal at Eureka Masonic College ("The Little Red Brick School Building") Morris began writing what later became the ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star. He titled the original ritual as The Rosary of the Eastern Star. Morris formed the Supreme Constellation in New York City and begin issuing charters around the country.

In 1866, Morris became friends with Robert Macoy, a Mason as well and the founder of Macoy Publishing. Morris was getting ready to travel abroad and he turned over all of the authority for the Eastern Star to Macoy. Macoy later, using The Rosary of the Eastern Star as a guide, published a ritual for Eastern Star.

During his travels, Morris spent a year in Jerusalem. There he established the first Masonic lodge in Jerusalem named Royal Solomon Number One. He became the lodge's first Master.

In 1884, Morris was named the second, and to this date the last, Poet Laureate of Freemasonry. The first was Robert Burns. The award was granted after Masons around the World petitioned for it, based on his extensive writings on the subject of Freemasonry. He wrote more than 400 poems in his life, most were about Eastern Star and Freemasonry. One his best known poems is The Level and the Square which he wrote in 1854.

Morris's health began to fail in 1887. By June of 1888 he was completely paralyzed. He passed away on July 31st, 1888.

Morris was raised on March 5th, 1846 in Kentucky. In 1858 and 1859 he served as the Grand Master of Kentucky.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.