The real origin of the Eastern Star, like Masonry, will
always be shrouded in mystery. Many researchers believe it had a French origin as early as 1703. By some, this is claimed
to be the first inception of "Female Masonry" or "Androgynous Degrees" -- (degrees for both men and women).
There appeared at this time, to be a demand for "Side
Degrees" or Degrees conferred on ladies, and quite a list sprang up -- "Heroines of Jericho", "Danger in the Dark", "Tall
Cedars of Lebanon", etc. These were extensively used but soon fell into decay, for lack of lasting worth.
As to the real origin of Eastern Star Degrees in its
Initiatory form, there is not the least shadow of doubt that the honor belongs to Dr. Rob Morris and its real origin comes
under the First Era.
Dr. Morris had traveled many years. He had written many
books on Masonry which are now valued references in many Masonic Libraries.
Never quite satisfied that all the good in Masonry should
be confined to men, Dr. Morris felt that Masonry should be for the whole family. But by the laws of that Ancient Order, women
are not eligible for its degrees. Knowing he could not change the Ancient Landmarks of Masonry, Dr. Morris sought some method
by which women could share with the Masonic Brother the same inspiration that "prompts man to noble deeds."
Although he harbored these feelings for years, it wasn't
until 1850, while confined to his home after an accident, that Dr. Morris fully developed the Eastern Star Degrees in their
present initiatory form.
During this time, he carefully thought out the symbolism
and significance of the floor plan and the corps of officers. He conferred the degrees upon his wife and daughters, and some
neighbors, presumably having an idea to clothe the ladies with certain words or signs whereby they might make themselves known
to Master Masons.
These signs and so-called mysteries of the Order were
communicated freely to all Master Masons and their relatives. Dr. Morris and other prominent Master Masons gave many lectures
and conferred the degrees on many ladies throughout the nation.