International Organisation of Good Templars

Photo of the South Creek band 1920 courtesy of Bert Evans, Lifetime member of the Society.

Originated as one of a number of fraternal organizations for temperance or total abstinence founded in the 19th century and with a structure modelled on Freemasonry, using similar ritual and regalia. Unlike many however it admitted men and women equally and made no distinction by race. The (IOGT) named themselves after the Knights Templar citing the legend that the original knights “drank sour milk because they were fighting ‘a great crusade’ against ‘this terrible vice’ of alcohol”. The motto of the organization was “Friendship, Hope and Charity”.  A politician and prohibitionist George Daniel Clark was born in 1848 at Colchester, Essex in England.  He was the son of Daniel Clark a labourer and his wife Mary Ann, née Clark. Financial troubles cut short George’s  schooling so he went to sea arriving in Australia around 1871 and was employed in Australasian Steam Navigation Co.’s ships. After he married Rosanna Jane Druce in August 1875 at Woolloomooloo he settled in Sydney and became a messenger at the Sydney Observatory. A determined self-improver he already had three loyalties – temperance, Methodism and the cause of labour. About 1873 George had joined the International Order of Good Templars that he chose for its clear commitment to prohibition. He edited the New South Wales Good Templar (Australian Temperance World from 1896) in 1883-1917 and in 1925-32 held high office in the New South Wales Grand Lodge for many years and he was electoral superintendent. The Templars were close knit. Brother Clark tireless and single-minded helped to make the order the most determined and impatient contingent of the State’s temperance cause.  In March 1882 the lodge at South Creek was in a very flourishing condition and they had a weekly average of about 30 members. The Reverend Mr Trivett cast his lot with them and with his help they are said to make a great reformation in the little township. The correspondent of the NepeanTimes said that it is wanted, as not a week passes by without some fighting or quarrelling and the origination of all this is that cursed demon drink. By April 1882 the first annual celebration of the Western Star Lodge of Oddfellow’s South Creek took place on Easter Monday. The weather was pleasant but it turned out hot in the afternoon on Victoria Square with very little shade, no seating or shelter but for a small grandstand.  The Committee members:- Alf Gassman, Tom Andrews, Charles Hackett with E Paskin Secretary. The South Creek Brass Band headed the procession of IOOF, Order of the Royal Foresters No. 431, South Creek Good Templers and South Creek Guiding Star Lodge of juvenile Templers. The procession numbered 300  and started opposite Mr Gassman’s store marching two deep as far as Mr Harford’s then turning and marching back to Mr Roberts corner and then to the park. The band in the pavilion played the whole day.  Many games were played as well as a game of cricket.  The handicap races saw Messrs J Royal, J Giblet and James Hackett running some very close races.  Mr A Innis the starter, Alf Gassman the Judge, T. Andrews and C Hackett referees. Over 500 people were present coming in from all parts of the district with one of the most successful racers being the first race handicap winner J H Brown, second race (members only) winner was Charles Hackett, third race boys under 18 years the winner was J Byrnes. Fifth race over hurdles won again by J Byrnes, seventh race won by J H Brown, eighth race for boys under 12 years (was apparently the best race of the day) winner W Erwin. By July a social meeting of the Star of the Western Lodge 214 was held at the Temperance Hall in Penrith.  About 120 members and friends started at 8 o’clock with Mr J S Shearstone addressing the congregation saying that when a temperance speaker was ridiculed before and called fanatical it was now they came to be respected by all classes with friends in high order, even royalty with 300 Good Templar lodges in the colony with 11,000 members. Afterwards there was singing by the choir and some of the members and recitals then Reverend Mr Trickett of south creek was asked to address the meeting and there was more singing before the meeting was over. A happy time was had by all.