Desert of Florida History

Gala Day was first conceived and presented to the Imperial Council in 1944. The original idea was not conceived as Gala Day, but as Deputy’s Day and was given the name Gala Day by the Imperial Council.

In 1894, in the Oasis of Jacksonville, the Desert of Florida records indicate that the first Temple was established by the Imperial Council St. Joseph Temple #8 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rev. Frank C. Brown of Jacksonville, Florida served as the 1st Illustrious Potentate and Deputy Grand Potentate for the Desert. Noble Brown was also the Deputy of the Valley for Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons. He and Past Grand Master/Grand High Priest/Grand Commander Reuben S. Mitchell were some of the first 33rd Degree Masons and Nobles in the Desert.

In the beginning St. Joseph Temple #8 was not known as Union or Rabia Temple and it wasn’tuntil after 1903, that Grand Master John H. Dickerson pegged the temple as Union Temple No. 8. The word Union had a great influence on the Masonic people in Florida. Four Grand Bodies in Florida use the title Union. The Grand Lodge was Named Union because of the merger of the two Grand Lodges in 1879. These came thereafter: Union Grand H.R.A.M., Union Grand Commandery, K.T. Union Grand Court H. of J. therefore, he felt, Union Temple was justified at that point and time.

Through their leadership Grand Master Dickerson was created and progressed. Once Grand Master Dickerson was elected and began to use the iron fist rule, he replaced Deputy Brown and served as Deputy of the Desert until 1916.  The name Union met with objections from the Imperial Council because the name Union was not an Arabic name. Therefore, the name Union was changed to Rabia in 1944. Rabia Temple has been living up to the purpose and principles of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine since its inception. Our participation in the activities of the Imperial Council has been intensified for many years. As the Desert began to grow, it underwent a battle with the mainstream nobles concerning the organization of Rising Sun now Harram Temple #23 in Tampa, Florida.

The Imperial Council also chartered thirteen (13) additional Temples within our Desert. They are: Harram Temple #23 in Tampa, Florida; Ahmed Temple #37 in Tallahassee, Florida; Haggai Temple #55 in Palatka, Florida; Ancient City Temple #63 in St. Augustine, Florida; Osiris Temple #67 in Daytona, Florida; Masud Temple #69 in West Palm Beach, Florida; Kismet Temple #87 in Key West, Florida; Malta Temple #143(August 23, 1945) in Orlando, Florida; Kazah Temple #149 in Miami, Florida; Murat Temple #180 in Ft. Myers, Florida; Haggai Temple #182 (formerly Islam Temple) in Pensacola, Florida; Saba Temple #186 in Pompano Beach, Florida; and Safia Temple #188 (August 23, 1974) in Panama City, Florida, Indris Temple #239 Crestview.

The Imperial Council deactivated Haggai Temple #55 charter in 1997. They also transferred Osiris Temple #67 charter to Melbourne, Florida and Ancient City Temple #63 to Daytona, Florida. The Honorable Past Potentate Eric Myers, Harram Temple #23, is the only Noble from the Desert of Florida to be elected to an office of the Imperial Council. Past Potentate James Brimberry has served in the Imperial Appointed position as Regional Director. Other Nobles that were appointed to the position of Imperial Deputy of the Desert are as follows:
The Head of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine-Desert of Florida formerly Deputy Grand Potentate now Imperial Deputy of the Desert of Florida, 1894.

Past Imperial Deputies of the Desert of Florida:
*1st Rev. Frank C. Brown (St. Joseph) Rabia Temple #8, 1894-1903
*2nd John H. Dickerson Rabia Temple #8 1903-1915
*3rd William A. Glover Rabia Temple #8 1915-19XX
*5th Rudolph Bradley Kazah Temple #149 19XX-195X
*6th Raynell Earl Sloan Harram Temple #23 195X-197X
*7th John W. Stevens Masud Temple #69 197X-1973
*8th Samuel Sweeting Kazah Temple #149 1973-197X
*9th John Dillard Kazah Temple #149 197X-197X
*10th Rev. Robert Brown Rabia Temple #8 197X-198X
11th Earl Sims Rabia Temple #8 198X-198X
12th Charles F. Gullat Malta Temple #143 198X-1994
13th Carl Finerson Malta Temple #143 1994-2004
14th Walter E. West Osiris Temple #67 2004-2005
*15th Billy D. McLamb Haggai (Islam) Temple #182 2005-2018
16th Pierre E. Rutledge Kazah Temple #149 2018-2021
17th Louis T. Harper Rabia Temple #8 2021-
*Gone with the Black Camel of Death

There are two Temples that have earned special recognition: Harram Temple #23 for outstanding charity donations and for also chartering the first credit union within the Imperial Domain, and Kazah Temple #149 for partnering with the University of Miami to establish a medical organ transplant program and for outstanding charity donations as well.

The History of Gala Day

Gala Day was first conceived and presented to the Imperial Council in 1944. The original idea was not conceived as Gala Day, but as Deputy’s Day and was given the name Gala Day by the Imperial Council.

Gala Day was the brain child of Daughter Flora Watkins and Noble Claude Watkins. At the time of its inception, Noble Watkins was the Imperial Deputy of the Desert of Indiana. He approached the Imperial Potentate and Imperial Council with the idea of declaring a day to honor the Deputies of the Deserts throughout the Imperial Domain. The idea was first met with many objections in the Council by a very conservative block of officers of the Shrine. The Imperial Potentate, Noble Raymond W. Jackson #61 (1939-1955), “A Man for the Hour,” embraced the thought that the Deputies worked for the Council all year and deserved the tribute. He also reasoned that local Temples could make money for charity.

Upon giving the idea its approval, the Imperial Council decreed that the event should be known as “Gala Day”, and that the Deputy of the Desert must be in charge of all arrangements and business pertaining to the events. The Council ruled that each Temple in the Desert would be allowed the opportunity to serve as hosts, with the initial event to be held in 1945.

Gala Day as we know it today is a joint celebration between the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and the Daughters. This is why we celebrate “Gala Day.”