Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Else Do All These Famous Freemasons Have In Common?

L to R: Winston Churchill, Roy Rogers, W.C. Fields,
Omar Bradley, Harlan Sanders, Mel Tillis, Clark Gable,
Will Rogers, and Norman Schwarzkopf
You look at this picture, and it's pretty easy to see this is a collection of famous Freemasons--right? 

Sure, that's absolutely correct--all these men were Freemasons, but I'll bet you don't know they all shared something else in common as well.  I didn't know it until recently, and I've written about all of these men over the years--quite a few you'll find in my Famous American Freemasons books.  I'll tell you.  Each of them belongs to a very select few men that have received the Common Wealth of Kentucky's highest honor--every single one of these Freemasons was also a Kentucky Colonel! 

I recently met a Kentucky Colonel!   I certainly didn't know much about the Kentucky Colonels--to be honest with you, I didn't really know what it meant, and I certainly didn't know Colonels were still being commissioned.  About all I knew about them was that Colonel Harlan Sanders had been commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia back in the 1930s.  I'd written about Colonel Harlan Sanders in Famous American Freemasons Volume II.  But after doing a bit of research, I discovered the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels is a remarkable organization with a long history and a tradition of generosity--and still very much alive and thriving.  I thought it was pretty interesting, so I thought for a change, I'd talk about another group not affiliated with Freemasonry (although it appears that there are a lot of Freemasons to this day amongst the ranks of the Kentucky Colonels). 

That title originated back in 1813 after the Kentucky Militia returned after a successful campaign in which control of the Northwest was taken from the British and returned to the United States during the War of 1812.  Governor Isaac Shelby asked one of the officers in the militia, Charles S. Todd to serve as an aide-de-camp in the Governor's office, and he was given the rank of Colonel.  Originally, these Kentucky Colonels served military roles, but in the 1920's, a group of these former Colonel's began to discuss forming a society.  The Governor at the time gave his approval, and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels was born in May of 1931 with the idea of being a "good works" society.  And since the beginning, and still true today, every Kentucky Colonel is commissioned by the Governor of Kentucky.

Kentucky Colonels are both men and women who have been selected and nominated by another Kentucky Colonel, and commissioned by the Governor of Kentucky.  They serve as good will ambassadors for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  They aren't limited to the state of Kentucky--you'll find Kentucky Colonels all over the world.  Many of these Kentucky Colonels join The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels organization, which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and supports many worthy causes--and like the Freemasons, many of those charities benefit children. 

Anybody can make a donation to this organization, and much like the Freemasons do, they run a tight ship with the donations under their care.  92% of every dollar goes towards the charities they support.  Check out their website--there is a lot of information about the work they do, and it's well worth a browse.  They do good work, and they are one of the most uniquely diverse groups I've encountered, and part of a long and proud tradition in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014. You can contact Todd E. Creason at:

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