A Brief History


In the month of August, 1870, a number of Sir Knights, living in Independence, Missouri called a meeting of these Sir Knights with the purpose of applying for a dispensation to start a Commandery in Independence. S. N. Kerr, a member of Leavenworth Commandery No. 1, Leavenworth, Kansas; John A. Westmoreland, F. Entrekin, Marion May, J. H. Morrison, members of Kansas City Commandery No. 10, and Charles Clark, a member of Reed Commandery No. 6 of Dayton, Ohio; O. P. Burns and George Miller also members of Kansas City Commandery No. 10. The last two never became members of the new Commandery. The names of Jason Vernon, Ira Moore, L. N. Franklin, J. D. Hines and John Long also signed the dispensation, but were cancelled from the dispensation because they were unable to get debits at that time.

The petition bore the approval of Kansas City Commandery No. 10, who waived jurisdiction, qualifying it with the statement that it was only granted under provision that the first three officers are qualified to do the work. When the dispensation was presented, the Grand Commander declined to take upon himself the responsibility of granting the dispensation, thinking it much better to give Kansas City Commandery a year or more to work itself up, for, in his opinion, it would be almost impossible to support two Commanders at the present time in that section of the State within ten miles of each other. However, the committee on reports of Commanderies did not agree with the Grand Commander and reported, “The application of the requisite number of Sir Knights from Independence for a dispensation to one a Commandery at that place has been before the Committee and they recommend that the grand Commandery grant the petitioners dispensation asked for, to be named Palestine Commandery U. D.”

Dispensation was issued October 4, 1870. On October 26, 1870, D. W. Wells, Commander of Kansas City Commandery No. 10, reported that he had, by order of the grand Commander Vincil, proceeded tom Independence on October 25th, accompanied by Sir Knights Whitney, Letton, Brooke, and others from Kansas City Commandery No. 10, and they opened the Commandery and set to work Palestine Commandery U. D., conferring the work of Red Cross and order of the Temple on three candidates. S. N. Kerr was named Commander, J. A. Westmoreland, Generalissimo, and K. T. Entrikin, as Captain General. Thirteen candidates were Knighted and two Sir Knights were admitted while under dispensation. The first report to the Grand Commmandery showed a membership of twenty-one.

In 1971, the Grand Commander approved the work of Palestine Commander U. D. and a charter was granted on October 3, 1971. The new Commandery became Palestine Commandery No. 17, and was duly constituted October 25, 1871 by Grand Commander Francis F. Tufts who was accompanied by past Grand Commander George W. Belt, Robert Loch, and William Prail.


  • Commander: S. N. Kerr
  • Generalissimo: John A. Westmoreland
  • Captain General: Forbert Entrekin
  • Prelate: James C. Riggs
  • Senior Warden: Marian May
  • Junior Warden: J. H. Morrison
  • Treasurer: William H. Sullivan
  • Recorder: Walker Buckner
  • Standard Bearer: Jacob Vernon
  • Sword Bearer: William M. Randall
  • Warder: A. A. G. Stayton
  • Guard: Tandy Westmoreland


Harry S. Truman received his 40 year certificate on November 7, 1963. Eminent Sir Rolly Johnson, who served in World War One with Harry Truman, presented him with his 40-year certificate.