Murat Shriners History



An idea in the minds of five fellow Masons of Indianapolis, many years ago, is today Shrinedom's largest Temple. Only twelve years before Murat was chartered, Dr. Walter Millard Fleming called a meeting on September 26, 1872 in Masonic Hall, 114 East Thirteenth Street, New York City, for the purpose of formally organizing the first Shrine Temple in the United States. Dr. Fleming proposed that the first temple be named Mecca. The original thirteen members were named as the Charter Members of Mecca Temple.

Ten years later in 1882, five friends decided they would like to see Indianapolis have a Temple affiliated with this relatively new fraternal organization with the imposing name of Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The quintet consisted of John T. Brush, Henry H McGaffey, Charles F. Meyer, Theodore Pfafflin and Cortez F. Holliday.They appealed to William B. Melish, then potentate of the sixth Temple in Shrinedom, Syrian Temple at Cincinnati chartered February 6, 1877, to aid them in their endeavors, first to be initiated into the order and then to establish a temple of the Mystic Shrine in Indianapolis. Information regarding Murat Temple's beginning is contained in extracts from the official minutes of Syrian Temple written by Mr. Melish, past Imperial Potentate (1897) of the order.


Murat was to become the seventeenth Temple in all Shrinedom. When Murat's charter was issued, June 4, 1884, it bore the following eight names as charter members: John T. Brush, Theodore Pfafflin, Charles F. Meyer, Cortez F. Holliday, Henry H. McGaffey, Charles B. Harris, Goshen, Indiana; F.C. Echelman, and John W. Parke of Elkhart, Indiana.


Deserving of special mention among the founders is John T. Brush, who became the new Temple's first Potentate and served in that post 13 years, from 1884 to 1897. The members rejected several attempts of Noble Brush to retire as Potentate, but finally permitted him to step down in 1897. Although known then principally as a business man operating a large clothing store in Indianapolis in the Ober Building, he went on to leave his lasting imprint on the history of professional baseball. Brush became co-owner of the Indianapolis baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Reds) and, more especially, the New York Giants. He is credited with being instrumental in founding the World Series. Brush died November 26, 1912.


Murat, the name selected for the new Temple, is of unusual interest. It is one of only three in Shrinedom that are NOT of Arabic origin or connotation. The others are Aloha at Honolulu, Hawaii, and Sharon at Tyler, Texas. The name "Murat" comes from "Bir Murat," an oasis in the Nubian desert.


When Napoleon's armies were in Egypt between 1798 and 1800, the general in charge was Marshal Murat, who later became King of Naples. General Murat invariably made provisions for his troops. One of the desert water holes, called "Bir Murat," quenched the thirst of those armies of Napoleon, so the Indianapolis Temple bears the name of a Marshal of France. Murat is the only Shrine Temple with a French name.


Murat membership was given housing in the Townsley and Wiggans "Pork House" by the Indianapolis Valley of Scottish Rite beginning October 22, 1884. John T. Brush was their leader and at once imbued all his co-workers with enthusiasm that has been handed down to this year of 1984. Feeling the need of additional Nobles before setting out upon a pilgrimage across the desert to Mecca, on October 30, 1884, the charter members inducted their first class of twelve members without full ceremonial.


Murat properly initiated its first Ceremonial Class, containing 27 candidates from all parts of the state, March 27, 1885. Among the members of that class were General Lew Wallace, famous Civil War General, author of several famous books including "Ben Hur," "The Fair God," and "The Prince of India," and the governor of the New Mexico Territory; Thomas Taggart, later mayor of Indianapolis and subsequenly United States Senator, and F.T. Holiday, later Recorder of Murat.


On December 18, the annual meeting was held; and the reports showed that at the close of the first year of the history of Murat, there was a balance in the treasury of $75.58, that sixty-eight members had been initiated and that the total membership was one hundred and five. Over one hundred years later, Murat's membership is nearly 10,000.