Mike Shane in 2015, John Houston in 1917; pillars of Ray County

The tombstone of John Fletcher Houston in Richmond Cemetery - 1823-1870. (Photo by Linda Emley)

The tombstone of John Fletcher Houston in Richmond Cemetery – 1823-1870. (Photo by Linda Emley)

By Linda Emley

One day in 2012, I was reading an old newspaper and found an interesting article. It was a story about a man that once lived in Richmond and I spent several months looking for this “man with no name.” As always, finding this story was all about being in the right place at the right time.

The Richmond Missourian, June 28, 1917, had this: “The Masonic Celebration. Splendid Sermon By Rev. Cecil Miller Aker. A procession of Masons that filled one side of the square met at their hall at 1:30 o’clock on Sunday afternoon and moved as silently as a funeral procession around the square, going to the Methodist Church, where the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the forming of the first Grand Lodge, at London, England took place. The silent and graceful march around the square was a reminder, or rather symbolic of the quiet way in which the Masonic fraternity has worked for these hundreds of years and accomplished so much.

“On the pulpit of the church were flowers of every imaginable color, and to some it was a reminder that in every civilized nation on earth are Masons, from Greenland’s icy mountains to India›s coral strand, where Africa’s sunny fountains roll down their golden sands,etc.

“The services were begun by singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ Mr. W.S. Alnutt leading the singing, with Miss Benora Maddux presiding gracefully at the piano, after which prayer was offered by the pastor, followed by the singing of ‘Blest Be the Tie That Binds.’

“The sermon of Rev. Aker was so good all the way through that The Missourian regrets that it is not here printed in full. The secretary of Richmond Lodge, Mr. Durward Brady, expressed the sentiments of all who heard it when he said to the writer, ‘I marveled at it’s excellence.

‘He touched the spot in reference to those who manifest a desire to criticize the order, and it is a pity that a few who are so inclined could not have heard what he said in reference to criticism.

‘The only man who is not criticized by some individual in Richmond sleeps over yonder on the hill.’ he said, pointing in the direction of the cemetery.”

After reading this article, I wanted to know who was this mystery man. My first thought was Alexander Doniphan, but he’s buried in Liberty so he’s not sleeping on cemetery hill. I thought about who else it might be because it was so obvious to everyone in 1917, that the editor didn’t even have to mention his name.

My next guess was Gov. Austin King because his grave marker stands high on that hill and looks like Washington’s Monument. But King was buried south of town and his body was moved to the city cemetery in the 1930s, so he wasn’t there in 1917.

George Washington Dunn would have been a good choice, but he’s not buried there so that rules him out, too.

On July 10, 2012, I went to Columbia to visit the Missouri Lodge of Research, which houses the records of all A.F.& A.M Lodges in Missouri. My mission was to find out if Alexander Doniphan was a Mason.

While at the Lodge, I ran across an important local Mason that we didn’t know existed. I had been unable to find any record of Alexander Doniphan being a Mason. Most of his friends were, but he is not mentioned in any of the local records.

I was looking over the lodge file for Platte City, hoping to find something about Doniphan and I ran across a letter from Richmond that was sent to Platte City in 1865. It was on letterhead from the office of the Grand Master, who is the number-one Mason in the state. It was signed by John F. Houston.

We then found that John F. Houston was the Grand Master in 1864 and 1865. These were important years because many Masonic Lodges had lost members during the Civil War. He died at the age of 47 in 1870 and was honored with a large funeral when he was buried in Richmond. After reading his obituary, we know Houston was the man that was being talked about in 1917.

On a hot July day, I went to Richmond Cemetery with a Masonic friend and we found John Fletcher Houston’s grave. I will never forget as we looked up that hill and saw his stone standing there. We’re still working on the rest of the story about him.

I’ve spent the last three years thinking about John Fletcher Houston and the legacy that he left in Richmond. In 1917, 47 years after he died, the people of Richmond still remember “The only man who is not criticized by some individual in Richmond sleeps over yonder on the hill.”

In 2012, I gave a program at the Richmond Rotary about Mason Houston and made a comment that we need more people like him in our modern world.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about John F. Houston and wondering what made him different. What did he do that was so outstanding that everyone in Richmond looked up to him and remember him long after he was gone?

A few days ago, I realized that history had been repeated because we had a modern-day man who lived such a life. I knew a person that was “The only man who is not criticized by some individual in Richmond …” On Feb. 11, 2015, Ray County lost Mike Shane. He was a good friend to everyone who knew him. I’ve heard so many stories over the past few weeks about how knowing Mike made a difference in their lives.

I’m one of those people who will never forget him. I first met Mike in the 1980s when he was a coach for the little league all-star team that my son Travis played on. I remember seeing Mike on the ball field and he made every one of the boys feel special because he was that kind of person.

Since I started working at the Ray County Museum, I’ve had the honor of knowing Mike as a Vietnam veteran. He was the guest speaker a few years ago at our annual Veteran’s Appreciation Picnic. He also served as our chaplain by praying over many of our special events and dinners. There are no words that can describe the way we all feel about this man who served so many in our county, but his obituary does share a few of the highlights of his life:

Michael Owen “Mike” Shane, 67, of Richmond, died Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, at NorthCare Hospice House in North Kansas City.

Mike was born Oct. 7, 1947, in Kansas City, Mo., to Robert M. and Dorothy M. (Owen) Shane. He married Veronica A. Dale of Richmond Oct. 2, 1966; she survives of the home. Additional survivors include: one son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Kristin Shane of Richmond; two daughters, Rhonda Ireland of Lee’s Summit, and Monica Shane of Richmond; two brothers and sisters-in-law, Robert and Norma Shane of Excelsior Springs, and Cody and Donna Shane of Richmond; six grandchildren, Patrick Jeffries, Shane Ireland, Connor Ireland, Ali Kate Ireland, Ensley Shane and Jett Shane; and one brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Allen and Michelle Dale of Richmond.

Mike was a farmer. He was a 1965 graduate of Richmond High School. He was a United State Army veteran of the Vietnam War, receiving two Purple Hearts and one Bronze Star. Mike was a member of Richmond VFW Post 4398, where he was currently serving as its chaplain. He worked for Ford Motor Company for 41 years, before retiring in 2005. He was a member of United Auto Workers Union local 249. Mike served on several boards in Ray County including: Ray County Memorial Hospital Board, Ray County Women’s Resource Center, Ray County Farm Service Agency, Ray County Home Health and Cotton Creek Ministry. He was an ordained minister. He was a member of the Christian Fellowship Ministry, and a member of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. Mike was a chaplain for Cowboys for Christ. He lived most of his life in the Richmond area.

On Feb. 16, 2015, Mike Shane was laid to rest on the hill at Todd’s Chapel a few miles from Richmond. He was buried with full military honors. Thank you Mike for all you did. Watch over us all until we meet again.

For more about Mike Shane, see page 3.


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