Eastern Star Lodge No. 55 was formed in 1819. The only adjacent Masonic Lodges were Hamilton, Lebanon, and Dayton. Our present area was wilderness inhabited by American Indians and swamp fever. General William Cortenus Schenck, who organized our Lodge, was sent here by his uncle, General John N. Cunning, to develop the Northwest Territory. Western Ohio and especially Franklin can be proud of General William C. Schenck. He received his principle training from his father, a Presbyterian minister, who had served in the Patriot army and was a cousin of General George Washington. He was made a Mason in one of Washington’s military lodges. General Schenck later went to live with his uncle and attended Princeton University. He was trained in medicine, a lawyer, a surveyor, and an educator. He was an original charter trustee of Miami University. He helped in the formation of Cincinnati, Franklin, Toledo, and Newark. His final achievement was the Miami Erie Canal which connected the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio with Lake Erie in Toledo, Ohio, and went through the town of Franklin.

There was no church in Franklin, so General Schenck’s family brought his father, Rev William Schenck V.D.M., to Franklin in 1818. General Schenck knowing the importance of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, felt that Franklin needed a church.  They started the First Presbyterian Church.

The following year in 1819 they formed Eastern Star Lodge No. 55 F. & A.M. It has been with determined courage that this Lodge has continued for 190 years. It has had its ups and downs, but with its dedicated leadership and constant member support it continues to be a strong lodge. It has indeed been progressive. It has had a membership of nearly 700, and now has a membership of 250 men, all who have asked to be a part of our organization. At the time the lodge was formed there was no organization of the Order of the Eastern Star. In search of the minutes about twenty-five years later, we find this quotation in reference to the name of the lodge, “Shine on oh star of hope, of love and humanity; no star save the star of Bethlehem is destined to shine more effulgent or more long time than thou.”

Along with the distinction of being founded by General William C. Schenck, Eastern Star Lodge was graced in its beginning with two other brethren who were prominent in the Grand Masonic bodies. William Fielding joined Eastern Star Lodge on February 20, 1821. He was Worshipful Master in 1823 and Grand Master of Ohio in 1830. He was at that time living in Piqua, Ohio.

Another very distinguished brother was Absolom Death, who became a member of Eastern Star Lodge during the early part of the Morgan affair. He was Worshipful master of Eastern Star Lodge in 1838 and 1842. Absolom Death was a school teacher, an auditor, and a physician. He had his office beside the Blood Drug Store. He was an active officer in the Grand Lodge of Ohio, the Grand Chapter, R.A.M. and the Commandery which he helped to form in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1847 he was the Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council R. & S.M. in Ohio. He was a member of several Blue Lodges in Cincinnati. This membership also shows him as a petitioner and charter member of Reese Council No. 9 R. & S.M. of Dayton, with membership in Franklin, Lebanon and Middletown. Absolom Death was active in every branch of Freemasonry.