I first heard about The Order of the Eastern Star through my dad. His maternal grandparents moved to San Francisco soon after the earthquake. They had met in Osteopathy college in Iowa and headed west, doubtless in search of opportunity a western metropolis rebuilding and redefining . Strange to think it was just 50 years after the gold rush and within just a few years of the big 1906 quake. The first city directory to show their osteopathic office on Mission Street was in 1910. My paternal great-grandmother, Eleanor, was a Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, San Francisco Chapter, in 1922.
I have no idea what this meant, what her duties were, or what the organization was about - other than being a networking opportunity. The Order of the Eastern Star was founded in 1818 as an affiliate organization of the Masons. These organizations originate from a history of trade-based community help and self-reliance before there were state institutions to deal with the costs of illness, death, and life. From what I can discern, they evolved into Victorian reinterpretations of the occult and constructions of ritual and guild-type camaraderie - coupled with some practical local professional networking and service work. What I find particularly endearing - are the notes, I assume made by Marion herself about the movements during the ceremony - wiggling dotted lines meant to connote secret and profound movements of the order.
The photo above is the Masonic Temple at 25 Van Ness St. in San Francisco where the ceremony took place in 1922. The first Masonic lodge, built in 1860 and burned down in the 1906 fire, was at 1 Montgomery. Its replacement at 25 Van Ness Avenue was constructed in 1911 - a seven-story Neoclassical structure inspired by a Florentine palazzo. (more on the Masonic Temple)
Almost the same view from during the earthquake: you can see the construction and recovery that happened in just 10 years.
Below is a photo of my grandfather as a toddler at Ocean Beach before 1920. His 1915 birth certificate shows the address as 493 Diamond St. and his aunt and uncle lived in a fancy house at 68 Castro St. That was before my Great-grandfather Lewis lost all the family money - sitting in the background to the right in the photo below with his hands clasped around his knee - head slightly down. Eyes, probably closed. This would have been a few years before he lost the family bank account in a failed gold mine scheme in the Yukon.
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