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Mickel, Reuben 1828-1886


Posted By: Marilyn Holmes
Date: 7/19/2018 at 14:56:36



Grand Master of Masons in Iowa (1867-1868)

Born March 27, 1828, at Lawrens, New York
Died December 13, 1886

In the preparation of the biographical sketches of those distinguished Masons who have been called upon to preside over the splendid body of Masons composing the Grand Lodge of Iowa, we have been greatly assisted by the systematic work of Brother Theodore S. Parvin, Past Grand Master, and for many years Grand Secretary. He secured the steel plates of nearly all of the Past Grand Masters, together with biographical sketches of each, prepared by himself, and caused them to be printed in volume V of the Grand Lodge proceedings. Thus is made an enduring record for the information and benefits of after ages. He was personally acquainted with those men of whom we would write.

Reuben Mickel was the thirteenth Grand Master, serving two years. He was of a retiring nature, deeply interested in Freemasonry and its teachings. He was born at Lawrens, Otsego County, New York, March 27, 1828, of German parentage, being one of nine children. He passed his boyhood days upon the farm where he was born, working during the summer months, and attending the district school a mile or more away during the winter months. He was a great reader, devouring everything in the way of a book, magazine, or newspaper that fell into his hands, and because he preferred his books to the usual sports of other boys he was known by his playmates as the "Deacon."

He attended two terms at New Berlin Academy in Chenango County, sawing wood for his board, afterwards attending Hartwick Seminary near Cooperstown, New York, for one term, and later teaching school at Oneonta, N.Y. In 1848 he left his home to seek whatever fortune was in store for him. With fifty dollars which his father had given him to start with and the prayers of a loving Christian mother, he went to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where he taught school. He took up the study of law in the office of J.B. Fullerton. Here, while pursuing his legal studies, he married the daughter of a farmer. He was admitted to the bar at Kittanning in June, 1850, and commenced the practice of law in Allegheny County. From there he moved to Elk County and was soon admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of that State.

In the spring of 1855, after the death of his mother, Brother Mickel located at Montezuma, Iowa and took up the practice of his chosen profession. Later he engaged in the banking and real estate business in which he was quite successful. During the financial panic of 1857 he met with heavy losses, but afterwards by untiring energy he was able to accumulate a competency. He removed to Jefferson, Greene County, in 1868, and engaged in the banking business with Mahlon and Albert Head. His wife's health failing he removed to Washington, D.C., where he remained but a short period, then to Rome, Georgia, to Allegheny Springs, Virginia, to Louisville, Kentucky, and finally to Chicago, Illinois, in the vain search for health for her who was his life companion and whose happiness and good health were so dear to him. While residing in Chicago they narrowly escaped with their lives from the great fire that burned the hotel where they were staying. He later engaged in business and became the secretary of the Compound Car Axle Company, and was also a member of the firm of Laurens & Co.

Brother Mickel was made a Mason in Armstrong Lodge No. 239, at Freeport, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, in 1850. He joined Lafayette Lodge No. 52 at Montezuma, Iowa, by dimit immediately after his arrival there in 1855. He petitioned Hiram Chapter No. 6, at Oskaloosa, in 1864, and by its permission was exalted in Corinthian Chapter No. 14, at Des Moines, during the session of the Grand Chapter of Iowa in June, 1864. At this time the Grand Commandery, Knights of Templar, of Iowa was organized; wand with the concurrence of the officers there, "a Commandery of an indispensable number, was organized and Companion Mickel (now Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge) was knighted and assigned to membership in Palestine Commandery No. 2, at Iowa City by consent of its representative. Subsequently, upon the organization of De Payens Commandery No. 6 at Oskaloosa, in 1865, Sir Knight Mickel enrolled himself there as a member. He received the degrees of the A.A. Scottish Rite up to and including the thirty-second degree at Davenport in 1857.

Brother Mickel attended the sessions of the Grand Lodge representing his lodge, from 1859 to 1864, when he was elected Senior Grand Warden. He had been appointed Senior Grand Deacon in 1861. In 1866 he was appointed Grand Master, and owing to the absence of Grand Master Peck on the western frontier, Deputy Grand Master Mickel presided as Grand Master at the session of 1867, and so well did he discharge the difficult task that he was unanimously elected Grand Master and re-elected in 1868. His administration was a successful one. He was a man of few words, but when he arose to address the Grand Lodge he commanded attention and respect. As a Masonic writer he was regarded as a man of profound thought, expressing in most forceful language his views in a convincing manner on the subject under consideration.

His quiet, unassuming ways secured him many admiring friends and probably no man ever retired from the office of Grand Master in Iowa possessing more devoted and sincere friends than did Brother Mickel. After completing his term in office as Grand Master he attended the Annual Communications only a very few times. In 1875 Grand Secretary Parvin read a letter from him expressing sincere regret at his inability to be present. This communication was sent from Chicago where he was then making his home. He was present at the annual session in 1874 which was probably his last appearance in that body. In 1887 the Grand Secretary called the attention of the Grand Lodge to the report of the murder of Brother Mickel in the early spring of that year. The details of this unfortunate affair were very meager. It seems that Brother Mickel was seen walking upon the railroad track, followed by several suspicious characters. The next morning his hat and gold-headed cane were found lying by the side of the track, and it was believed that he had been murdered and his body thrown into the river. Nothing further was ever heard from him, nor was his body ever recovered.


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