About the Shriners

Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, truth and relief.

The Shriners’ mission is straightforward. Shriners are committed to:

  • Being the premier fraternal organization for men of good character
  • Providing interactive, quality programs and services for its members, their families and their friends in a spirit of fun, fellowship and social camaraderie
  • Fostering self-improvement through leadership, education, the perpetuation of moral values and community involvement
  • Serving mankind through the resources of its philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children®

A Short History of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

Digital Book in .pdf Format

The Founding of Al Chymia With 16 Knights Templars

The Shrine had been functioning about twenty years when its 58th Temple in Memphis was formed. A group of Nobles from Alhambra Temple of Chattanooga came to Memphis on the 21st of March 1891 and inducted into the order sixteen Knights Templar. These sixteen, with the addition of B.F. Price, R Galloway and J.W. Sear, met on April 13, 1891, and petitioned imperial Potentate Sam Briggs of Al Koran Temple, Cleveland, Ohio, for a dispensation to form a Temple. Alhambra Temple, which had jurisdiction over Memphis, had already consented to the formation of a Temple in Memphis. In its petition for a dispensation, this meeting recommended B. F. Price as Potentate, or Sultan, as the presiding officer was frequently called, and selected Al Chymia as the name for the new Temple.

The dispensation was granted on April 18, 1891, and on May 23rd, a meeting was called for electing Temple officers by B. F. Price who had been approved as Potentate. Potentate Price also made appointments as were required by the Imperial by-laws. Authority was granted to the costume committee to spend $1,000.00. Temple by-laws were adopted at this meeting, fixing the initiation fee at $50.00 and dues at $6.00 per year.

The name of Al Chymia was chosen for the Memphis Temple at the suggestion of Noble John D. Huhn, charter member and the first Temple Recorder. Alchemist was the title of one of the Shrines appointive officers in the early days. The founders of the Order said that what the ancient tried to do with baser metals, should be typical of the Shrines efforts with men. This was not very apropos in view of the fact that all candidates for the Shrine had to be high- ranking Masons of the York or Scottish Rites, and presumably, worthy and well qualified. There are many who think it would have been distinctly advantageous if the name of Memphis had been chosen for the Temple instead of Al Chymia. While Memphis is Egyptian, and not Arabic, it is still an Oriental name and is more easily pronounced than Al Chymia. Thru the earlier years, several votes were taken to change the Temple name, and all were in vain.

Fred D. Sexton, Temple Historian

The Shrine In A Temple (1943)

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Nobility and all that it stands for is a word that has fallen into disuse and has little meaning in out lives. It’s a term that is not nearly as familiar today as the idle matters that occupy too much of out attention. Those truly deserving the description, noble, are ones foremost in dignity and in deeds. Such a group as the Shrine makes one think of the Nobility of Fraternalism, the congenial fellowship it offers and the demands of brotherhood that is places upon its members.  And the most admirable fraternal group of all is the Christian religion with its emphasis on brotherhood and with its ritual, symbolic and mystical aspects. With its roots in religion, it is only natural that these characteristics of religion that these characteristics of religion are common in the Shrine movement.  Nobility summons up thoughts of Noblesse Oblige – the obligations for responsible conduct on the part of those in high places.  The charitable conduct on the part of those in high places. The Charitable endeavor of the Shriners show that they are taking this duty seriously.  A Noble person is a well-rounded one, and a person would hardly merit the title if he were unfamiliar with the merriment that is typical of Shrine gatherings.  May proper balance always be maintenance by the Shrine Noble and all of us who are called to be Noble men and women.



The Fez:

The Imperial council has adopted the fez as the exclusive type of head covering to be worn by all nobles of the Mystic shrine when appearing as such.

It is it is red Turkish Fez with Black Tassel, bearing only the name of the temple of which the Noble is inactive member , with a facsimile of a scimitar, and that portion of the Jewel of the Order consisting of the crescent, sphinx head, and star combined, embroidered there on with gold and silver bullion or silk.   The Fez is to be worn in its proper shape and without creasing or alteration. It is permissible for Potentates, Past Potentates, Recorders and Divan members, as well as official uniform organizations to have their titles embroidered in small letters in gold or silver bullion or silk or jewels on the front of the Fez beneath the emblem.

It is permissible to adorn the name of the temple an the emblem with rhinestone jewels of a size no larger than that known as #12 by the says makers. It is permissible to use one pin to hold the tassel in place, said pin to be either plain or jeweled. The use of any other wording or devices than those mentioned above is prohibited.


“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the country for which it stands; One nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and justice for all.”


            The Military Salute is used when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in during the plane or singing of the National Anthem.



He Noble who is wearing his Fez will execute a right-hand salute when the Colors are within the six paces of him; he will not remove his fez. After the Colors have passed, he should drop his right hand. In case the same Colors passed the same point again, as frequently happens in the Ceremonial procession or in displayed drills, the Colors need not be saluted a second time period.  The same rule applies to street parades.


            During the offering of a prayer, the Fez should be removed and held in the right hand over the heart.


Frisco Bridge Grand Opening Parade 1892

On May 12th, 1892, Al Chymia Shrine Temple participated in the opening ceremonies of the new Frisco Bridge across the Mississippi river here at Memphis. A copy of the article about the opening of this bridge that appeared in the Commercial Appeal is attached to the temple minutes book. Nobles J. T. Hinton and Robert Galloway supplied 27 horses so that the bridge-opening parade might be led by the mounted Shrine Patrol. Each member of the Patrol supplied his own saddle. This was the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River south of St. Louis

Fred Sexton, Temple Historian

Shrine Building at Monroe and Front in Memphis, TN

On December 14, 1909, a Permanent Home Fund was set up to provide a building for the Temple. After twelve years, Noble J. A. Fowler of the trustee’s board reported the fund to be $49,339.48. On January 11, 1922, Potentate White appointed Nobles J. A. Fowler, A. B. Lewis and C. B. Quinn a “preliminary building committee.” This committee made its final report at a meeting on February 8th, and the Temple authorized the Potentate to inaugurate a building campaign. A committee of fifty was appointed to sell five per cent second mortgage bonds, and $25,000 of these bonds was subscribed for before the meeting was adjourned.

According to the preliminary building committee’s report, the enterprise was to cost $725,000. The building itself was to cost $500,000.00. Fees for the architects and engineers were set down at $25,000. The cost of site, furniture and the fixtures were set at $200,000. To raise this sum, the Temple proposed to add to the $50,000 on hand by note and bond sales as follows: 5% second mortgage notes, $200,000; short 6% second mortgage notes, $75,000; 30 year 5% bonds, $400,000.

Ground at the comer of Monroe and Front was purchased from the Orgill Estate and an elaborate building prospectus was issued showing a ten-story building with a roof garden. Construction of the building was begun early in 1923, and plans were changed from a ten- story building with a roof garden to one of thirteen stories with a swimming pool. The Change involved an additional expenditure of approximately $275,000.00.

The building was completed early in 1924 and dedicated on February 4th with impressive ceremonies. With $35,000 worth of furnishings, there were no more beautiful club rooms in the South. The Nobility of Al Chymia enjoyed these luxurious accommodations for five years. Then came the Depression. During the next decade of occupancy, the enjoyment was marred by worries over building finances, which grew more distressing every year. Finally, at a foreclosure sale early in 1938, the New York Life Insurance Company got the building for its first mortgage.

The Nobility continued to occupy the club room for several months, and then moved to the club rooms formerly occupied by the Elks in a building which the Elks had lost which was the DeVoy Hotel. The DeVoy Hotel later changed its name to the King Cotton Hotel and was owned by Noble Arthur Landstreet.

Fred Sexton, Temple Historian

Al Chymia and it’s White Camels

Noble Major Gordon Lilly, known as “Pawnee Bill,” gave a white, baby camel to the Temple in 1906. The animal grew up to be one of the finest in the world. It was placed in the Memphis Zoo and in 1909 a white mate was bought for it in Hamburg, Germany, and presented to the Memphis Park Commission in November 1909. In due time a white baby camel came along, and the three were taken to the Imperial Council Session in New Orleans in April 1910. The baby camel was christened by the newly elected Imperial Potentate, Noble Fred A. Hines of Los Angeles, “W. Freeland Kendrick,” for the newly elected Imperial Outer Guard. The christening took place in the main lobby of the St. Charles Hotel.

As “Old Al,” this camel became familiar to the Nobility of North America. The uniformed units took “Old Al” to the Imperial Council sessions in Rochester in 1911, to Dallas in 1913, to Atlanta in 1914, and to Buffalo in 1916. Wherever there was a parade there was some Noble astride “Old Al,” and Al Chymia came to be known as “the Temple with the white camel.”

The uniformed units, with many other Nobles of Al Chymia, attended the Imperial Council Session in Atlanta, in 1914. Al Chymia’ s special train arrived in Atlanta on Mother’s Day and each Noble was provided with a carnation. The delegation marched from the station to their headquarters, the band playing “The Boston Commandery March” and the Nobles singing the words of “Onward Christian Soldiers” to the air. During the great parade the next day, “Old Al’s” feet got sore and just as he got in front of the reviewing stand, he decided to knell and let the Potentate get off. The Potentate saluted the Imperial Sir, and “Ali Baba,” the attendant, saw an opportunity to get credit for a great stunt; so, after Al had kneeled for a second or two, “Ali Baba” pulled the lead rope and “Old Al” arose and went on. The impression was created that the camel had been trained to kneel before the reviewing stand and the crowd went wild. Only the Potentate and Ali Baba knew it was a case of sore feet.

Fred Sexton, Temple Historian

Elvis and Al Chymia Shriners

Thru the years, Elvis came in contact with many members of our Temple. Here is a list of the ones that I know of and their relationship with Elvis. I hope you find this list entertaining but please don’t ask any of these Nobles that are still living for their autograph.

Dick Callicott— Was the Asst. Mgr. of Lowes State Theater and fired Elvis because he would not show up for work on time. Theater Mgr. Arthur Groom got credit for this action, but Dick did the dirty work.

Mayer Eisman—-Is the brother in law of disc jockey George Klein who was President of Elvis senior class in high school George worked for Elvis off and on for many years.

P.P. Milton Bowers-Was head of Memphis Draft Board #86 and he personally delivered Elvis his draft notice at Graceland mansion.

J.D. Parks—–Worked many security details for Elvis, especially during Cotton Carnival time. J.D. had many items that were autographed by Elvis to him.

Sidney Cole——Planned many security details for Elvis when he did concerts in Memphis and private parties at the Rainbow skating rink.

Bill Hardy —–Escorted Elvis to some of his private movie parties at the Memphian Theater.

P.P. C. Harris Cole—Was in charge of security detail at the Baptist Hospital when Lisa Marie was born. There is a picture of Harris escorting Elvis, Pricilla and Lisa leaving the hospital that was in many magazines.

Ralph Muench—Stopped Elvis one night not knowing who he was because there was a police blue light on the dashboard. Elvis explained to Ralph why he had it and Ralph let him go.

Fred Sexton—-Went to school with Richard Davis who was Elvis valet for seven years. Richard also doubled for Elvis in some of his movies and was a member of the Elvis gang.

Jim Grisham—Was in charge of keeping the bugs out of Graceland. Jim’s company has been spraying Graceland for many years and has seen parts of the mansion that the tourist trade would love to see.

Jack Adams—Sold Elvis the Circle G ranch at Walls, Mississippi. Elvis spent a fortune on the place and really enjoyed ranch life as long as he owned the Circle G.

Bill Morris—Who was former Shelby County Mayor and Sheriff made Elvis a Deputy and did many favors for Elvis. Vernon Presley and Mayor Morris dad were lifelong friends. Elvis gave Bill a car for Christmas in 1970.

P.P. Roy C, Nixon–Befriended Elvis many times over the years. Roy also served as County Mayor and Sheriff and deputized Elvis and the entire Memphis Mafia. Roy gave Elvis flashing blue lights for his car.

Perhaps the most important Shriners that came into the life of Elvis after he died were P.P. Joseph Evans and the son of P.P. Blanchard. Blanchard’s son was appointed by Judge Evans as Guardian Ad Litem in re the Estate of Elvis Presley. Judge Evans did not like what he saw in the court papers regarding Colonel Tom Parker and R.C.A Records. These two Nobles along with ex-wife Pricilla are the main reasons that the Presley estate was saved and flourishes beyond anyone’s wildest dreams,

George Klepper Imperial Potentate 1962-1963

George Madden Klepper was born September 11, 1903, In Kingston, Missouri, the son of Frank B. Klepper and Lela Madden Klepper, his parents being of Dutch and Scottish extraction. His father was graduated from the law School of the University of Missouri in 1896 and subsequently was elected to the United States Congress from the Third Congressional District, being the first Republican to be elected from that District. After retiring from Congress in 1908, his father moved to Cameron, Missouri, and it was there that George received his primary and high school education and his prework at Missouri Wesleyan College. During his high school and college days, George played both football and basketball.

George studied law at the University of Missouri, The University of Colorado and in January, 1925, completed his legal work at Washington University in St. Louis. In January of that year, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he began the practice of law. His son, George Jr., graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School and joined his dads firm in 1954.

For many years George was active in Republican politics in Memphis and Shelby County. He was either a Delegate or alternate to all of the Republican Conventions from 1936 to 1952, and for a period of twenty-five years, he served as Chairman for the Shelby County Republican Party. George never aspired to hold public office but was a strong believer in the two-party system of government. When George was elected as Imperial Outer Guard in Miami, Florida in 1952, he withdrew from all political participation.

George was a member of: Daylight Lodge and Past Master, Penn Chapter No. 22; Eureka Council No. 6; St. Elmo No. 15; Tennessee Consistory No. 1; Red Cross of Constantine; The Cabiri; National Sojourners; Masonic Veterans Association; 33rd Degree Honorary Southern Jurisdiction. George served as Potentate of Al Chymia Temple in 1947 and was a member of Court No. 130 of the Royal Order of Jesters and served as Director of that organization. He was a Trustee of the Shrine School for many years. George served as Commissioner of the Boy Scouts in West Tennessee for many years.

George belonged to the Tennessee Club, Executive Club, Summit Club, the 100 Club and the Chickasaw Country Club. His hobbies were collecting broken bank notes, large size U.S. Currency and playing bridge and gin rummy.

Information for this article was taken from the 1962 Imperial Annual Proceedings and the Al Chymia Alchemists for 1962 and 1963.


Chris Smith Imperial Potentate

Imperial Sir Chris L Smith crossed the hot sands at Al Chymia December 2, 1978. The Imperial Sir remained a Noble in Al Chymia Temple until December 11, 2000. The Imperial Sir joined Wahabi Shriners in 2001 and reaffiliated with Al Chymia as an Associate Member in January of 2001.

The Imperial Sir made the following Imperial Appointments from Al Chymia for the year 2016- 17.

Imperial Potentate Personal Aide: Potentate Bill Hardy, Wally Blocker, Joey Williams, Bill Smith, Ted Illsley, Ernie Sutherland, Gene McDaniel, Jack Rendall, Jim Norman, Wayne Bonner, Ron Anglin.

Imperial Potentate Special Aide: Rhon Lee Reed Imperial Potentate Aide: John McFarland. Election Teller: Jim Norman.
Public Relations: John McFarland.