The turn of the 20th century produced evolutionists of many different aspects in the medical field of study. Two regular masons combined there wisdom to create a fraternity chapter that changed lives forever. William J. “Billy” Florence and Walter M. Fleming founded Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly referred to as Shriners. The Shriners went on to create a hospital that would change children and families lives forever. Since the first hospital began in 1922, the Shriners have begun numerous hospitals with several different areas of treatments.
At the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue in New York City, a group of high-spirited Masons met repeatedly at a special table on the second floor. Among these members were, William J. “Billy” Florence and Walter M. Fleming. The group of Masons regularly tossed around the idea of beginning a new fraternity. They wanted a chapter that focused on fun and fellowship instead of rituals.
Dr. Walter M. Fleming was a prominent physician and surgeon. He was born in Portland, Maine in 1838. He attended college in Albany, NY receiving a degree in medicine in 1862. He served actively in the Civil War as a surgeon for the 13th New York Infantry Brigade of the National Guard. William J. Florence was an actor, playwright, and songwriter in the United States. His birth name was William Jermyn Conlin, born in New York City on the 26th of July, 1831. In 1853, William was married to Malvina Pray, also an actor. They appeared throughout the country in several different plays including, The Mighty Dollar which they starred in over 2,500 times.
After capturing the stages of New York City, Billy Florence left the United States to tour Europe. Billy Florence was invited to a party in Marseilles, France held by an Arabian diplomat. He was astonished by the music, costumes, and fun fulfilled environment, and sought after to incorporate these ideas into the new fraternity. Walter Fleming had knowledge of fraternal rules and rituals. Fleming, with the help of the Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, designed the rituals and decided on a salutation. He also demanded that members would wear the red fez to represent the Arabian theme the fraternity was founded on. The Knickerbocker cottage regulars were now the founders of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly referred to as Shriners.
The Shriner’s became known for their leadership efforts throughout the country. By the year of 1898, the fraternity had grown to an astonishing 50,000 members, and seventy-seven of the seventy-nine temples...