Royal Templars of Temperance

Organized in 1870 at Buffalo, N.Y., as the result of an effort to close the saloons on Sunday. Its founder, Gyrus K. Porter, had for many years been actively identified with the Freemasons, Odd-Fellows, and Sons of Temperance, and so acquired the experience necessary to frame a ritual for an organization which should be educational and uplifting in its character. An active interest was taken in the movement, which subsequently became a secret fraternal benefit society, with a benefit fund, from which, on satisfactory evidence of the death or total disability of a beneficiary member, a sum not exceeding $5,000 should be paid to the family, orphans, dependents, or persons having an insurable interest in his life. The Supreme Council, or law-making body of the order, was organized at Buffalo, February 16, 1870. During its earlier years the order endeavored to unite all to labor morally, socially, and religiously for the promotion of the cause of temperance, and in this regard maintained a local organization and confined its efforts to purely local work. At a meeting of the Supreme Council, January 15, 1877, a revised constitution, including the benefit system, was adopted, and the society reorganized. From the date of its reorganization its growth was marked, and has kept pace with the ever-widening influence of the fraternal system. The formation of the order, while undoubtedly inspired by, was not the result of any disruption of other temperance orders. It came into the fraternal world with a special work to perform, and claims to be "the only strictly total abstinence order that has successfully combined its temperance principles with its beneficiary work." During twenty years the stream of benefits, which appeared small at its beginning, has steadily increased, until over $5,000,000 has been disbursed in the United States and Canada. Its membership is composed of both men and women, who enjoy equal rights and privileges. Its government is vested in a Supreme Council, which meets biennially, composed of the incorporators of the order and officers and representatives from Grand Councils. Grand Councils are formed in any State or territory where a sufficient number of Select Councils have been organized, and when so formed have jurisdiction in its State or territory, except in the beneficiary department. Select Councils are the subordinate or working bodies of the members. An influential branch exists in the Dominion of Canada, which has a separate beneficiary jurisdiction. A union has been formed with the Swedish American branch of the Templars of Temperance, and the beneficiary department is managed as one in the United States. An emergency or reserve fund is a feature in both the United States and Canada. The strength of the order in the United States and Canada, and in the Scandinavian branch, exceeds 20,000 members in the beneficiary department and about 30,000 social members. The number of Grand Councils in the United States is seven, and in Canada five. The order does business in twenty-seven States, aims to furnish insurance at actual cost, and "has no deaths from intemperance." Its plans have been improved by experience, and as its record inspires confidence its prospects are bright for continued success.

From: Cyclopedia of Fraternities, compiled and edited by Albert C. Stevens, 1907.

Initiation Ritual