By ROB W. ANDERSON
For 107 years, Tahlequah Order of the Eastern Star Chapter 148 served the community and helped provide donations for several charitable organizations.
The venerable civic-oriented group held its final meeting Saturday, Nov. 10, at its usual location – Cherokee Masonic Lodge No. 10, which was chartered in 1848 and is the oldest Masonic lodge in the state.
The local Eastern Star chapter will now close its books and consolidate with Locus Grove Chapter No. 382 because of a dwindling membership, said Gloria Bottrell.
“We’ve had a group 107 years. That’s why we’re so upset this is happening. Of course, that didn’t stop seven or eight of us from trying to keep it going. You have to have seven for there to be a quorum, and sometimes we couldn’t even meet that requirement,” Bottrell said. “We really hate to see it go, and for two years, we’ve been trying to decide what to do about it. It just got to be too much for everyone, I think. So we’re going to consolidate with Locust Grove.”
Bottrell said to become an Eastern Star, a person needed a Mason to sponsor his or her membership. Though the availability of potential members exists, the presence of new faces at the meetings may have been hampered by today’s generation of families that juggle agendas – attending school activities or other community sporting events or organizations.
“I think [the decrease in membership] is because people have too many other things going on. It got to where we thought we could change our meetings from Tuesday evenings to Saturday afternoon, and we’d get a bunch of the elderly that didn’t want to go out at night, but that didn’t work, either,” Bottrell said. “We hate to see it happen. We have tried to do what we can for the community and everything. So it’s kind of hard for us older ones who have been in it and tried to work hard to keep it up to give it up. All the chapters in the state are having a hard time with membership, as well.”
Help-In-Crisis and Special Olympics are among the charities and organizations helped by the Tahlequah Eastern Star Chapter, which had a participating membership of 25 to 30 people at one time.
“We’ve donated to just about every charity around here,” said member Linda Hall. “The March of Dimes, the cancer fund, the heart fund, the Diabetes Foundation. He was not one of our members, but a member of the Eastern Stars family, who came to visit a lot, lost a kidney, and we donated to the lost kidney foundation in memory of him. He was a good friend of my son’s. We have also donated to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. It’s in Oklahoma City, and it studies neurological diseases.”
Hall agrees with Bottrell that membership numbers have dwindled as many older members have either left the area or are unable to participate.
“We’ve had so many of our elder members move away to be with their families in their old age or have eventually passed away. Or their physical conditions are such that they can’t come,” Hall said.
Mary Sue Cauthron remembers when the Eastern Star bean dinners were so popular that people in cars couldn’t drive through an intersection without seeing a sign promoting the event.
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