Welcome to O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto

The following history of O-Ton-Ta-La is directly taken from a 1940 publication. The publication was a souvenier program for the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Council. The cover of which is here:

Booklet Cover

A Brief History of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto
-By-
Prophet Herald M. Harter
Past Grand Monarch


The name O-Ton-Ta-La is of Persian derivation. Dehyphenated as otontala it means, “sea of stars.”


O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto was instituted June 19, 1911. It was the 40th Grotto to have been chartered by the Supreme Council, Mystic Order Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, which originated at Hamilton, New York, June 13, 1890.


O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto was organized by William Tecumseh Sherman O’Hara, who became its first Monarch, one of the outstanding Masons of Toledo who has served as Master, High Priest, Illustrious Master, Eminent Commander and as an Honorary member of the 33rd Degree, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Free-masonry in which he has been an active leader. Past Monarch O’Hara has had many high honors conferred on him, such as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons of Ohio, and General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter R. A. M. of the United States; Grand Illustrious Master of the Grand Council Royal and Select Masters for the state of Ohio, and Grand Recorder of the same organization. Briefly, such is the Masonic record of the founder of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto. This organization was constituted October 31, 1911.


O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto has been honored with the membership of many of Toledo’s leading citizens, the limitations of space preventing personal mention. Many prominent professional and business men have served as Grotto officers.


The first ceremonial session of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto was held on Friday, January 12, 1912. The officers on that occasion were as follows: Monarch, W. T. S. O’Hara; Chief Justice, Charles E. Chittenden; Master of Ceremonies, Wesley S. Thurstin, Jr.; Treasurer, John W. Lloyd; Secretary, Bart E. Haughtby.


Monarch O’Hara was succeeded by the late William W. Bright in 1912 and he by Alfred B. Stanbery in 1913. In 1914, Herald M. Harter served as Monarch, and it was during his administrative term that great strides were made in the upbuilding of membership; O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto achieved a great reputation for its degree work as well as for the size of its classes of candidates, they having broken all records. It was these classes, each numbering in the hundreds, that established the “large class” era in the Supreme Council. In recognition of these accomplishments, Monarch Harter was elected to the office of Grand Venerable Prophet of the Supreme Council at its 25th session held at Richmond, Virginia, June 9 and 10, 1914. He served in successive line offices until 1923, when at Cleveland, Ohio, he was elected Grand Monarch, which position he held until the Indianapolis session of 1924.


The following Prophets have served O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto as Monarchs in the years indicated:

1911 – William T. S. O’Hara1926 – Arthur F. Briese
1912 – William W. Bright1927 – Ora A. Thomas
1913 – Alfred B. Stanbery1928 – Aaron Friedman
1914 – Herald M. Harter1929 – Royal B. Binzer
1915 – Guy R. Reiter1930 – George I. Brown
1916 – John W. Luscombe, Jr.1931 – John L. Bueschen
1917 – Clarence S. Ordway1932 – Charles E. Chew
1918 – Charles F. Broer1933 – Lowell S. Bleckner
1919 – Aaron H. Webster1934 – Homer Brown
1920 – Otto L. Hankison1935 – Otto H. Hohly
1921 – John N. Pfeiffer1936 – Bert Decker
1922 – John W. Chamberlain1937 – LaVerne H. Evans
1923 – Harry W. Lloyd1938 – Burton Brisbin
1924 – George R. Hoffman1939 – Floyd P. Turner
1925 – William H. Anderson1940 – Lester G. Shoemaker


The social life of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto has been featured by many events such as dances, entertainments, smokers, picnics, boat excursions and trips out-of-town. In many of these events the ladies of Prphets participated. As a matter of fact, for quite some years the wives, daughters and mothers of Prophets have maintained an organization of their own.


Particular mention should be made of the subsidiary organization of the Grotto, O-Ton-Ta-La Drum and Bugle Corps, a very active unit, and there was a time when the O-Ton-Ta-La Drill Corps distinguished itself at Supreme Council sessions.


Limited space forbids recounting the many accomplishments of this organization, as well as the achievements of the various Prophets who served as Monarch. From the time of its inception to the present, O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto has well served its purpose, that of providing social means for its Prophets whose membership is predicated on membership in good standing in a Blue Lodge of Masons.


Although the depression years have been rather lean ones for O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto, yet our two inspiring Classes in 1939 totaling 40 candidates were very encouraging, and we have hopes of bettering this record in 1940. Many interesting Activities are being sponsored by O-Ton-Ta-La, which should appeal to the Masonic Public particularly and bring excellent results in the coming years. Also, the Line Officers are very active in the promotion of these Activities that can only result in bringing glory and honor to O-Ton-Ta-La.


The future of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto bids fair to outdo its past. New Leadership will continue to modernize its methods and activities so that it cannot be said of O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto that it continues to bask in the sunshine of a glorious past. O-Ton-Ta-La Grotto is awake to the possibilities and opportunities of the present and future.