Union Chapter was chartered in 1870. Prior to 1888, our women auxiliaries were called Courts. Union Court was organized in Indianapolis between the years 1870 – 1875, under the Jurisdiction of Ohio. The Grand Body was then called “Courts of the West”, whereas stated official history of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, page 96, chapter IV. Although there is some mention of the Order as far back as 1868; the exact date of the organization is in doubt. However, the Authority for the aforementioned time comes from the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Ohio who was invaluable in helping with the early history of our Order, through the recorded history of their Grand Lodge.
The first recorded history of Union Court was 1874; the Court met in Indianapolis, Indiana and was allowed to perform all the work of a Court of the Order of the Eastern Star, including that of giving various degrees.
In 1888 the records show there were nine Courts of the Order operating in the State of Indiana. On August 13, 1888, the nine Courts of Indiana and those of Ohio were united under the Grand Court of the West. A meeting of the Courts was held October 25, 1888 in Green Castle, Indiana; however only six of the nine Courts sent representatives. The Courts present at the meeting were Union #1, Leah #2, White Lily #3, Sheba #4, Queen Esther #5, and Bethlehem #6. Sister Nellie Allen of Union Court #1 was on the credentials committee at that meeting; she was also the First Worthy Matron of Union Court #1 and the first Grand Associate Matron of the Indiana Grand Court.
In 1892, the name “Court” was dropped, and the word “Chapter” was taken by the Order. All Courts of the Order of Eastern Star were ordered to turn in their old charters of which new ones would be issued with the new title of Chapter and charter date of 1888. Though Union Court #1 complied other Courts did not. The Charter date was later destroyed and a new Charter was issued June 26th, 1906 by Jennie L. Lewis, Grand Matron, William R. McFarland, Grand Patron and Wynona L. Speed, Grand Secretary.
The Origin and Historical Sketch of Prince Hall Grand Chapter 1884- 1985 states “At the Grand Session held in Indianapolis in 1900, the word Court was dropped and Chapter was substituted, the name Indiana Grand Chapter. All chapters were given new charters and numbers in the order that the “old” were turned in.” Brother E.M. Jones, a member of Union Court-Chapter and Central Lodge #1, figured very prominently in the organization of Union Court and the Grand Body of O.E.S. Brother Jones was the first Grand Marshal of Indiana Grand Chapter. The following comment from the Grand Chapter minutes dated July 11, 1892 from the E.G.S.M. Sister Mary A Meyzeeke at the memorial service, concerning Brother Jones “I met Brother Jones in 1868 at the Grand Lodge of Masons in Indianapolis; he was a man of integrity and honor, a true honest gentlemen. In the O.E.S., his advice helped advance the Order. We shall nevermore hear his pleasant voice in Grand or Subordinate Court. We shall not forget him.”
Brother E.M. Jones worked with the court with the help of Royal Matron Sister Nellie Allen. They worked in both degrees, the Queen of the South and the Cross and Crown Degrees. “We were permitted by divine providence to carry on the work of the Order of the Eastern Star: this historical development of the Order of the Eastern Star in the State that status established by our predecessors who inaugurated our first Grand Chapter.” Brother E.M. Jones died July 11, 1892. Brother Vanlee Sanders, Past Patron of Union Chapter was the first Grand Chaplin; he was the Past Patron of Union Chapter and a member of Central Lodge #1. Sister Roxie Jones, a member of Union Chapter, was elected Grand Secretary of Grand Chapter, and served from 1892 – 1899. Our Past Grand Worthy Matrons were: Sister Gertrude B. Hill, From Union Chapter #1 served as Grand Worthy Matron from 1012-1918; Sister Helen M. Anderson 1991 – 1993. Our Past Grand Worthy Patrons were Brother Oscar C. Smith of Union Chapter #1 and Central Lodge #1 served as Grand Worthy Patron from 1985 -1986; Brother William B. Wilson of Union Chapter #1 and Central Lodge #1 was elected Grand Worthy Patron from 2011-2013, Brother Robert Apple, of Union Chapter # 1 and C. R. Richardson Lodge #69, was elected in 2017 and Brother Larry D. Brown, of Union Chapter # 1 and C. R. Richardson Lodge #69, was elected in 2019 and currently serves Grand Worthy Patron.
Sallie Martin Nurses Guild
On September 9, 1949, there were nine members of Union Chapter No.1 O.E.S. who met in the home of Sister Cleotha Clark. The purpose of this meeting was to organize the Nurses Guild. The Guild was named for Sallie Martin; Past Deputy of District No.2, and the mother of Brother Thomas C. Martin, who was Past Patron twelve years, of Union Chapter No.1.
The first President of the Sallie Martin Nurses Guild was Sister Ethel Lee. Original members of the guild included; Sister(s) Christine Jones, Cleotha Clark, Eloise Owens, Hattie Thompkins, Anna Martin, Noonie Brown, Martha Morgan and Bonnie M. Tinnin. The members took their First-Aid Course at the Red Cross Chapter House.
The Guild purchased five chairs for the Star Points and sashes for the Five Points of the Star, as well as a large white Alter Bible, O.E.S. Flag, and two white linen table cloths.
This Historical Sketch includes excerpts from various historical documents and is meant to shed light and give a brief history of Union Chapter #1 from its inception to present day.