Stephen T. Church 1829-1871 by Michael Robinson 32° KCCH

Stephen T. Church


Stephen T Church was born on June 1, 1829 in Hyde Park, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Samuel Church and Harriet nee Tripp. He was named for his mother’s father Stephen Tripp, who descended from William Tripp born in 1530. Samuel Church was born on July 26, 1784 in New Hampshire and was the son of Constant Church a Private in Captain Egdell’s Co. Col. John Berry’s Regt. who enlisted on June 30, 1775, and was said to have been at Bunker Hill. Constant Church was the great grandson of Col. Charles Church, born in Rhode Island on May 9, 1682, and he in turn was the son of Capt. Benjamin Church, who fought in the early Indian Wars, King Philip’s War and the first raids on the French at the Grand Pre on the Basin of Maine. Incorporating the Indian style of war he developed the tactics used by Robert Rogers, making him the father of the U.S. Army Rangers. Capt. Benjamin Church born in Massachusetts in 1639, was the son of Richard Church who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts from Oxford, England in 1634. Richard Church married Elizabeth Warren, the daughter of Richard Warren one of the Freeman on the first voyage of the Mayflower.

Stephen was the 4th of 11 children born to Samuel and Harriet Church in the area around Scranton Pennsylvania. By 1850 Stephen was living with his parents and siblings in Rock, Wisconsin. Two years later Stephen Church headed west following several routes, arriving in southern Oregon in the Fall of 1852. He took up mining and operating Pack Trains in Josephine County, and appears to have crossed over into Northern California at Crescent City. By 1857 he moved north into Lane County where he met and married Elizabeth Catherine Lister. Her parents William Lister born 1805 in Yorkshire, England and her mother Catherine Murray born 1807 in Ireland came to America in about 1825. William came first followed by his wife and infant son Thomas. While in route a pregnant Catherine and her young son were shipwrecked on the Bermuda’s and shortly after she got ashore she gave birth to a second son. Her husband waiting in New York eventually gave them up for lost. They were reunited when a passing vessel picked up the survivors and took them to New York. They settled in Lexington, Kentucky where Elizabeth Catherine, our subject’s mother was born. In 1850 William Lister who was a Physician, was conducting a Manufacturing operation from his home in Woodford, Kentucky. In 1853 William sold his property and the family went by boat to St. Joseph, purchased wagons, oxen and supplies, and hired a driver and a cook for a trip across the plains. One of Catherine’s brothers, his family and their mother stayed behind and came later. The rest of the family headed for Oregon in the Spring of 1853. In 1857 Elizabeth Catherine Lister, then 16 years old married Stephen T. Church age 28, and the couple settled in Harrisburg. The 1860 census shows that Stephen was a Merchant with $600 in Real Estate and $3,000 in Personal Assets. The household contained Stephen his wife and two sons and Elizabeth’s father Dr. William Lister.

In 1862 Stephen T. Church in conjunction with Master Mason Asa McCully, a Charter member of Eugene City Lodge #11 and Thurston Lodge #28, and his brother David, an Entered Apprentice in Lodge #11 and several others started the “People’s Transportation Company”.

 “Stephen T. Church, one of the pioneer steamboat men of the west and the secretary of the People’s Transportation Company, which operated a line of steamboats on both the Willamette and Columbia rivers in opposition to the first transportation monopoly of the Pacific northwest, the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, and rendered a great service to the people in reducing the cost of transportation and opening up new regions to settlement. Mr. Church was one of the largest stockholders as well as the secretary of the company and his name is inseparably interwoven with the history of Portland and the upbuilding of this section of the state, for he was at all times a public spirited man and labored untiringly to promote the general welfare.”[1]

“The People’s Transportation Company operated steamboats on the Willamette River and its tributaries, the Yamhill and Tualatin rivers, in the State of Oregon from 1862 to 1871. For a brief time this company operated steamers on the Columbia River, and for about two months in 1864, the company operated a small steamer on the Clackamas River. The People’s Transportation Company, often called the P.T. Company, was organized in 1862 to compete with the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, commonly known as the O.S.N. Almost every steamboat man not associated with O.S.N. were either founders of the P.T. Company, or were afterwards associated with it. (The O.S.N. was founded by Capt. John C. Ainsworth, a Master Mason and the man responsible for bringing the Scottish Rite to Oregon.)

1 J C Ainsworth

John C. Ainsworth
Founder of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company
Master of Multnomah Lodge #1 1851
Founder of the Oregon Scottish Rite (33° S.G.I.G.)

The principals in the founding of the P.T. company were two brothers, both businessmen and farmers: Asa Alfred McCully (1818-1886) and David McCully (b.1814). Other officers were Stephen T. Church (1829-1871); Edwin N. Cook (or Cooke) (1810-1879), businessman and Oregon State Treasurer from 1862 to 1870; steamboat captain Ephraim W. Baughman; businessman and politician Stephen Coffin; and master shipbuilder John D. Biles… The McCullys, who were heavy shippers in the Willamette Valley, had invested $3,000 into a steamer, the James Clinton to assure access to river shipping free of monopoly control …The P.T. boats posed serious competition to the O.S.N. on the Columbia.” In 1864, Capt. Joseph Kellogg, who brought the 1st Charter to Multnomah Lodge, and thereby setting the Craft to work in Oregon, merged his operations into the company. “In December 1866, Asa Alfred McCully (1818-1886) was president of the company. Other officers, elected at the December 6, 1866 stockholders meeting in Salem, were Edwin N. Cooke, vice-president, Joseph Kelly, George A. Pease, and L.E. Pratt, directors, S.T. Church, secretary, and George Marshall, Chief Engineer. The company was reported, in December 1866, to have earned revenue of $19,000, even after paying expenses.”

[1] History of Oregon Illustrated Vol. 3 by Charles H. Carney Chicago-Portland 1922


Asa McCully

Asa Alfred McCully
Founder of the Peoples Transportation Company
Charter member of Eugene Lodge #11 and Thurston Lodge #28

76 Capt Joseph Kellogg

Capt. Joseph Kellogg
Steamboat Captain for the P.T. Company
Brought the 1st Masonic Charter to Oregon 1848
Charter Member of Oregon Scottish Rite 1870 (32° KCCH)

134 Pease Capt George Anson

Capt. George Pease
Director P.T. Company
Master of Multnomah Lodge #1 1863 and 1868
Charter Member of Oregon Scottish Rite

“In January 1871, the P.T. Company’s steamers carried down to Oregon City, from upriver points, 5000 tons of freight.[47] By this time, the P.T. Company was facing new competition on the Willamette River, from the Willamette Locks & Transportation Company, which engaged in serious efforts to construct a shipping canal around the Willamette Falls, but was also running, or preparing to run, steamers against the P.T. Company.

In September, 1871 the empire-building stage coach businessman Ben Holladay incorporated a company with the objective of acquiring the People’s Transportation Company… On September 6, 1871, the People’s Transportation Company, apprehensive that the pending completion of the locks at Oregon City would bring a new challenge to its near-ten year monopoly, voted to dissolve the corporation and sell all its assets to Holladay’s company, the Oregon and California Railroad, for $200,000… During its existence, the People’s Transportation Company had spent over one million dollars for steamboats, docks, and improvement.”[1]

The Death of Stephen T. Church

The 1870 census found Stephen Church and his family living in Salem between fellow P. T. Company officials E. N. Cooke, who was also the State Treasurer, and Asa McCully. All three had large holdings; Cooke had $17,000 in Real Estate and $29,000 personal; McCully, the Company President at the time $1,200 in Real Estate and $30,000 personal and Church with $4,200 in Real and $20,000 in personal assets. Early in 1871, while on a trip to California, Stephen T. Church died in Santa Cruz on March 28, 1871. His body was returned to Salem, with honors and the Steamships of the P.T. Company as shown below in the newspaper articles of the time.

DEATH of S.T.CHURCH–Last evening we received a telegram from C. P. Church at Oregon City, giving the sad intelligence that his brother, our much respected and beloved fellow townsman, Stephen T. Church, died yesterday at Santa Clara, Cal. We individually mourn in his death the loss of a much valued and intimate friend, one who will be often missed and always remembered, not by a few merely, but by many, for he was a true man, known among men for honorable dealing and for the possession of the best characteristics that pertain to man in the capacity of citizen, neighbor, friend. His remains, accompanied by Mrs. Church, will come to Oregon on the first steamer. The sympathies of all will be accorded to his family whose loss cannot be estimated because he was all that a husband and father could be. In his business relations Mr. Church was brought into contact with many persons and he won the respect of all. Successful in business and possessing ample means he was unaffected, unostentatious and sincere. His death leaves a vacancy in our midst that cannot easily be filled.

Daily Oregon Statesman 29 Mar 1871 3:2 In Memoriam–The remains of our deceased fellow townsman, S. T. Church, are no doubt on board of the steamer which left San Francisco yesterday. It will be a sad pleasure that is left to us to honor his memory by attending the poor clay in which has dwelt the soul of him we loved to its last burial. The Societies of which he was a member have taken suitable steps to have the remains received at Portland, and on their arrival here, and no doubt this community, in which he lived so long and was so much respected, will show more than common interest in attending his obsequies.

Daily Oregon Statesman 6 Apr 1871 3:2 FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS–Committees of the Lodges of Odd Fellows and Masons to which the late S. T. Church belonged, went below yesterday to be on hand to receive his remains upon the arrival of the steamer and escort them hither for burial. If the steamer arrives in time the funeral cortege will come up the river to-day on the Reliance, but probably it will not come until to-morrow. If the Reliance comes up to-day the Fannie Patton will come up tomorrow. The funeral services are set for Tuesday, and arrangements are made to have members of the Orders come down on that day, by the Reliance, from Corvallis, Albany and Independence, and also from Oregon City, and if the weather is pleasant many are expected from Silverton and Jefferson, to take part in the obsequies. After the services the up river passengers will return by the steamer Fannie Patton.

Daily Oregon Statesman 9 Apr 1871 3:1 FUNERAL SERVICES–The funeral service for the late S. T. Church will take place this afternoon at 2 o’clock. The steamer Idaho arrived at Portland last evening at a late hour. The boats of the P. T. Company were to be kept ready and start the earliest moment and it is expected that the Fannie Patton will arrive by 10 a.m. with the funeral escort. The place where the services will take place will be designated at an early hour this morning.

Daily Oregon Statesman 11 April 1871 3:1 BURIAL of S. T. CHURCH–Yesterday morning, as announced, the steamer Fannie Patton came up the river with the remains of S. T. Church, bringing, also many family friends, members of the P. T. Company and of the Masonic fraternity, of which the deceased was long a member. The flags of the steamer were at half mast, as were those of the steamers at the wharf here, and also of the Reliance, which soon after came down the river with many members of the Odd Fellows and Masons and other friends of the deceased. The remains were taken to the Congregational Church where the funeral exercises afterwards took place. Many persons had come in from inland towns, and at 2 o’clock the procession moved to the church from the Masonic Lodge, headed by about fifty of the Order of Odd Fellows, to which the deceased also belonged, but having been for many years a Mason, is which Order he stood high, the burial was conducted by them. About one hundred and thirty Masons marched to the church, which could not near hold all who were in attendance. The exercises were conducted by Rev. P. S. Knight whose address was very impressive. Afterwards the procession formed again with the addition of over twenty carriages, and proceeded to the Odd Fellow’s Rural Cemetery where the beautiful burial service was read at the grave by Grand Master, D. G. Clark, of Corvallis, assisted by Rev. T. M. Martin of Salem, as Chaplain. The members of the Orders then marched around the grave and each deposited therein a sprig of evergreen, the symbol of immortality, and with the grand salute, the Order to which he so long belonged, bade adieu to a well beloved companion and friend. Daily Oregon Statesman 12 April 1871 3:1, 2 [2]

Stephen T. Church was laid to rest in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery on April 11, 1871. A few years after his death, in 1874 Elizabeth Catharine Lister, the widow Church married Joseph John Murphy in Salem.

[1] Wikipedia People’s Transportation Company.

[2] Newspaper article found on the Salem Pioneer Cemetery Website

118 Joseph John Murphy

Judge Joseph John Murphy
Master of Champoeg Lodge #27 1862-64
Member of Oregon Scottish Rite (32° KCCH)

  1. J. Murphy was born in Cork County, Ireland on June 22, 1832 and came to Oregon in 1858. He was a Carpenter by trade, but became heavily engaged in Law and Justice. He was Justice of the Peace for Champoeg, Marion County Sheriff, and U.S. Postal Inspector. He studied the Law and was a Lawyer, Judge and State Legislator. He also served as Clerk of the Oregon Supreme Court from 1891 until his death on June 19, 1907.

He was Raised a Master Mason in Champoeg Lodge U.D. on March 1, 1860 and was a Charter member of Champoeg Lodge #27 on September 18, 1860. He was elected Master in 1862, 1863 and 1864 and Secretary in 1865 and 1866. He received the Scottish Rite 32nd° in Portland on October 30, 1894, and he was elected K.CC.H. on October 22, 1901[1]

Judge Murphy had one child by his 2nd wife, the widow Church, Chester Griffin Murphy, born in Salem on February 3, 1876. Catherine Lister Church Murphy died on November 26, 1933 in Salem.

Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth Church was born on August 25, 1869 in Salem, Oregon. She was just two years old when her father died two months shy of his 42nd birthday. Judge Murphy was the only father she every really knew. On October 14, 1891 she married Louis Gaylord Clarke of Portland.

[1] Knight Commander of the Court of Honour

17 L Clarke

Louis G. Clarke
Master of Portland Lodge #55 in 1898
Member of Oregon Scottish Rite (33°, S.G.I.G. 1929-1941)

Louis Clarke was born on July 31, 1855 in Zanesville, Ohio. He came to Oregon in August of 1876. He was a Pharmacist with the wholesale and retail business of Woodward and Clark. Later he was Director of the Oregon Mutual Life Insurance company and owner of the Woodlark Building at Park and Alder. He was Raised a Master Mason in Portland Lodge #55 on June 3, 1880 and was elected Master of the Lodge in 1898. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in 1888, the K.C.C.H. on October 19, 1892 and was Coroneted 33° Honorary on January 27, 1894. He served as Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Scottish Rite in Oregon from 1929 to 1941. He died in Portland on December 4, 1943. His widow Elizabeth Clarke died on April 16, 1960 in Portland.

Masonic History of Stephen Church

It is not known where Stephen T. Church was made a Mason. It is known that he was a member of Crescent City Lodge # 45 in California, from which Lodge he demitted on April 2, 1857. He petitioned Eugene City Lodge #11 on June 20, 1857 for affiliation and his investigation committee consisted of Brothers Skinner, Huff and Goldsmith. He was elected to membership on July 18, 1857. He demitted from Eugene City Lodge, along with several other members who Chartered the Harrisburg Lodge in 1859. We can assume that he served as a Warden prior to his membership in Oregon, as he was the Master of Thurston Lodge under the dispensation granted on October 19, 1859, and was Master when the Lodge was Chartered on September 18, 1860 continuing on until the end of the year when Jackson L. Hall was elected for the year 1861. He remained a member of Thurston Lodge #28 until 1865. Around that time he moved to Salem where he was found as a member of Salem Lodge #4 by 1868. In Salem he was elected as Junior Warden in 1870, and he died in 1871.

by RWB Michael D. Robinson KCCH Orient Historian, written for Eugene Lodge #11 April 9, 2018


About the author:

MDR Fall 2016

Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH, was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was elected Master in 2013 and 2014, and currently serves as Historian.  He is also Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11 and District Deputy of District #13. Brother Robinson was appointed Historian of the Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014. He was the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Portland Valley Scottish Rite in 2010, and the Hiram Award from Esoterika Lodge in 2012. In March of 2015 he was made Secretary of the Eugene Valley, and Director of the Work for that Valley in January of 2017.

Spring 2018 Reunion for the Portland Valley Scottish Rite


Have you as a Master Mason ever wondered about joining the Scottish Rite? Good News!
The Portland Valley Reunion and New Member Initiation this spring is being held on Friday May 25th & Saturday May 26th, 2018.

The Scottish Rite in Oregon began in Portland in 1870 headed by the first Sovereign Grand Inspector General, John C. Ainsworth, 33°, who has been followed by eleven other Honorable Masons holding that office up to the present S.G.I.G. Illustrious Brother Gary Kuney, 33º Active, appointed in 2009.

The Scottish Rite is often called the College of Masonry and this Spring we will be having a Class of new Candidates to join us in the quest for further Masonic Light. The ritual of the Scottish Rite comprises twenty-nine degrees, the fourth through the thirty-second, each of which, in the dramatic form of a vaudeville era Shakespearean style moral play, presents lessons of high purpose developing the moral character of the individual.

The theater here was built expressly for these degree presentations. Our Temple in the Historic Goose Hollow Neighborhood is the first building exclusively designed and built for the Scottish Rite Degrees and was used as a model for other Scottish Rite buildings throughout the world. It was the great architectural vision of Brother Richard H Martin, Jr, 33º who designed several other Fraternal Buildings in downtown. It is unique in still having over ninety hand painted stage drops available for the degree presentations. They were painted in the early 1900’s and are known for their outstanding perspective. The drops and fly system accompanying them are some of the best preserved in the country of their type and age. Our Temple along with being the last vaudeville era stage still in active use in Oregon, is also the oldest building in downtown Portland still occupied by its original inhabitants, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

Ask your local Blue Lodge Scottish Rite member for a petition or download and print out one by clicking here: petition

New Book by Illustrious Bro. Ted Balestreri


Greetings Brethren,
Ill. Bro. Ted Balestreri’s new book titled “Kabbala” is now out and available to order on Amazon! Be sure to order one and keep an eye out for upcoming presentations and signing opportunities coming up in the near future.

“Kabbala” is an introductory review of the history and traditional uses of the three major versions of the Jewish, Christian, and Hermetic Qabalah. It includes an in-depth study of the components of the three forms of the Tree, the Geronese or Jewish Tree. Kircher’s Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, or what is often called the Left-Hand Path Tree. The major components include the study of the 10 Sephiroth, the various uses and presentation of the 32 Paths, the Tarot cards associated with the Paths and the Hebrew Letters and their meanings as it pertains to the Kabbalah. Other topics include the historic teachers and reformers of the Trees, and the many major organizations that center their teachings around the Tree from the Golden Dawn to The Dragon Rouge.

Book can be order here

Portland Valley 24th Degree Conferral


Tuesday the 17th of April, at 7:30 o’clock pm, the Portland Valley Scottish Rite will confer the 24th Degree of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, “Prince of the Tabernacle”.

All Scottish Rite Members of the 23rd° or higher are welcome to attend. Visiting Brethren will need current dues card showing membership in the Scottish Rite. Attendance is exclusively for members of the Scottish Rite, as with all of our events, this is not open to the public.

The Duties of the Degree are; “Labor incessantly for the glory of God, the honor of your country and the happiness of your brethren.”
The Lessons of the Degree is; “The power of faith in the Deity and his promises. The soul is immortal. There is one, true God, who is pure, absolute intellect and existence.”

7:00 pm Dinner [Swedish Meatballs]
7:30 pm Scottish Rite University Intro
7:45 pm Degree
After the degree there will be a cast party and Social in the Members Lounge.

Confirmations on Facebook of attendance will not be counted for dinner. Please RSVP by email to for dinner reservations by no later than 11:00 am on the Monday before the event. Any requests that come in after the cut off will go on the standby list.

Portland Valley Rite Night Guest Speaker


Rite Night Guest Speaker

Tuesday April 3rd, at 7 pm the Rite Night Guest Speaker will be our very own Brother Bruce Kent, 32°, KCCH & Financial Advisor from Edward Jones sharing with us two exciting topics. Brother Kent’s talk will be on the “100 drop in the Dow is not what it use to be and Take off your rose colored glasses.”

This is definitely one not to miss!

6:00 pm Dinner [Meatloaf]
7:00 pm Presentation

Visiting Scottish Rite members welcome. Dinner is just $15. Please RSVP for dinner by 11am Monday the 2nd at

Annual Ceremony of Remembrance & Renewal. Portland Valley.


Greetings Brethren,

On Tuesday March 13th, 2018 the Portland Valley Scottish Rite will be having our Annual Ceremony of Remembrance & Renewal.

This Ceremony is observed by Scottish Rite Rose Croix Chapters around the world and is considered to be a mandatory meeting for all Scottish Rite Members. During this ceremony Scottish Rite Freemasons remember and honor their Brethren who have passed to the Celestial Lodge in the previous year and commemorate the dignity and divine origin of mankind.

This observance is to strengthen the ties of brotherly love, past and present. Particularly highlighted are the ideals of Rebirth, Freedom and Fraternity.

Clarke Trust 5:30 pm
Officers Meeting 6:00 pm
Doors: 6:00 pm
Dinner 7:00 pm [Braised Brisket & Brown Mushroom Gravy]
Ceremony 7:30 pm

Invited Guests of Scottish Rite Members and all Masons and their loved ones are welcome, the preferred attire for the occasion is formal.

Please RSVP for you and your guests if you plan to attend dinner by Email at

Humility by Jason Jones

A young man in Masonry receives many invaluable gifts and experiences that he should always cherish, for me the on of the most invaluable gifts that I truly cherish are those brethren who have lived many of years more than myself. The lessons they have taught me I will never forget and often times remind me of characteristics I believe is necessary of a Mason, that I should never neglect.  Those brethren are often times two even three times my age, which many would presume would leave a generational gap, but for what they continue to do for me I consider them the best of friends.

            I have never thought of myself as one to brag, as far as Masonry I believe my excitement and pride overwhelms me, but a brother Mason well beyond my years reminded me to always be humble. One evening, a group of Masons assembled to support the local Order of Rainbow Girls Chapter at an inspection. I had and still do on occasion attended Rainbow functions dressed in Class A Commandery uniform, and always share my Commandery name, office and attempt to explain the uniform.

We each wore the regalia of a Masonic body in town, and at the start of the meeting the Mother Advisor asked us to stand so we could be recognized by all in attendance.

            As we rose the first brother to speak, one of the most decorated Masons I have ever had the privilege to know, a 50+ year Mason with more accolades than everyone else in the room combined says to the lodge “My name is Bob and I am a Master Mason.” To the young ladies about to be inspected this did not mean much, but the Masons in the room were rather taken back. The man who we all admire and look up to refused to acknowledge any of his hard work and dedication that he has given to Masonry over his many years of service.

            While the others waited on me to introduce myself I could not help but lose myself in thought. I thought back to when I began my journey in Masonry, the presentation of the White Leather Apron in the Entered Apprentice Degree and all the lessons of the Masters Degree. In my head I remembered hearing the Masters words “There is no higher honor…” After my thought, I answered, “My name is Jason, and I too am a Master Mason.” The rest of the brothers assembled in the room did the same. While something rather small I will always be so grateful for instances such as that one, reminding me of how to conduct myself in life.

            Colossians 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness, and patience