THE MOST WORSHIPFUL PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASON OF THE STATE MARYLAND AND ITS JURISDICTIONS™
Honorable Noel C. Osborne, Sr.
Most Worshipful Grand Master
Jerry K. Weaver, Sr.
History of Prince Hall
Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. He made it possible for us to also be recognized and enjoy all privileges of Free and Accepted Masonry.
Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. Few records and papers have been found of him either in Barbados where it was rumored that he was born, but no record of birth, by church or state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All 11 countries of the day were searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without a find of the name of Prince Hall.
One widely circulated rumor states that “Prince Hall was free born in British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englisman and his mother a free colored woman of French extraction. In 1765 he worked his passage on a ship to Boston, where he worked as a leather worker, a trade learned from his father. Eight years later he had acquired real estate and was qualified to vote. Religiously inclined, he later became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with a charge in Cambridge.” This account, paraphased from the generally discredited Grimshaw book of 1903, is suspect in many areas.
Black Freemasonry began when Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated into Lodge No. 441, Irish Constitution, attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army Garrisoned at Castle William (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775. The Master of the Lodge was Sergeant John Batt. Along with Prince Hall, the other newly made masons were Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley.
When the British Army left Boston in 1776, this Lodge, No 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as African Lodge #1 (Under Dispensation), to go in procession on St. John’s Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they could not confer degrees nor perform any other Masonic “work”. For nine years these brethren, together with others who had received their degrees elsewhere, assembled and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons. Thirty-three masons were listed on the rolls of African Lodge #1 on January 14th, 1779. Finally on March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London (William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 55) for a warrant or charter.
The Warrant to African Lodge No. 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall Mason Fraternity. Through it our legitimacy is traced, and on it more than any other factor, our case rests. It was granted on September 29, 1784, delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787 by Captain James Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock and master of the Neptune, under its authority African Lodge No. 459 was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.
Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master in 1791 by H.R.H., the Prince of Wales. The question of extending Masonry arose when Absalom Jones of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania appeared in Boston. He was an ordained Episcopal priest and a mason who was interested in establishing a masonic lodge in Philadelphia. Under the authority of the charter of African Lodge #459, Prince Hall established African Lodge #459 of Philadelphia on March 22, 1797 and Hiram Lodge #3 in Providence, Rhode Island on June 25, 1797. African Lodge of Boston became the “Mother Lodge” of the Prince Hall Family. It was typical for new lodges to be established in this manner in those days. The African Grand Lodge was not organized until 1808 when representatives of African Lodge #459 of Boston, African Lodge #459 of Philidelphia and Hiram Lodge #3 of Providence met in New York City.
Upon Prince Hall’s death on December 4, 1807, Nero Prince became Master. When Nero Prince sailed to Russia in 1808, George Middleton succeeded him. After Middleton, Petrert Lew, Samuel H. Moody and then, John T. Hilton became Grand Master. In 1827, Hilton recommended a Declaration of Independence from the English Grand Lodge.
In 1869 a fire destroyed Massachusetts’ Grand Lodge headquarters and a number of its priceless records. The charter in its metal tube was in the Grand Lodge chest. The tube saved the charter from the flames, but the intense heat charred the paper. It was at this time that Grand Master S.T. Kendall crawled into the burning building and in peril of his life, saved the charter from complete destruction. Thus a Grand Master’s devotion and heroism further consecrated this parchment to us, and added a further detail to its already interesting history. The original Charter No. 459 has long since been made secure between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank.
Today, the Prince Hall fraternity is the largest predominantly African-American Masonic body in North America. It has over 4,500 lodges worldwide, forming 45 independent jurisdictions with a membership of over 300,000 masons.
History of Prince Hall Masonry In Maryland
Notable Facts About The Jurisdiction of Maryland
Freemasonry among Black Men in Maryland had its start on February 2, 1825 with what was then known as FriendshipLodgeNo.6.Itwascharteredunderthe authority of the First Independent African Grand Lodge of North America of the State of Pennsylva nia.Using basic math skillswecanseethatBlacksin Marylandhavebeenpracticingthesublimeartfor193 years.Pennsylvaniawentontolaterchartertwomorelodges --- St. James Lodge and Enterprise Lodge (their nomenclature is unknown). These three lodges met in 1845 and created the First Col- ored Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons ofMaryland.
In 1847 a curious organization was formed known as the National Grand Lodge, this body formed anothergrandlodgeinthisstate.Theresultof which caused much discord until a Union was rat ified on September 12,1876.
These two bodies merged and formed theFirst Union Colored Grand Lodge of the State of Maryland. In 1878 the name was changed to the MW United Grand Lodge of the State of Maryland and it remained so till 1947 when it was changed to its present name The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland and its Jurisdiction,Inc.
The Grand Lodge of Maryland was instru mental in the formation of lodges in Virginia, the District of Columbia and West Virginia.
In 1865 the Grand Lodge of Maryland orga nized Lincoln Lodge No. 11 (4), in Alexandria, Virginia.
In 1870 Bro. Thornton A. Jackson, Grand InspectorofWashington,D.C.reportsthefollowing:
"To the MW F.C. Grand Lodge of Maryland
WarrenLodge No. 9, the only Lodge in my jurisdiction, I have the pleasure to report in the most flourishing condition. In order to accommodate the work pressing upon her, has held almost weekly meetings for several months past, and the brethren have fitted up, and furnished their new hall for their accommodation.
I expect that petitions for dispensations for
one or two new Lodges will soon be presented tothis GrandLodge.
Respectfully submitted, Thornton A. Jackson
Washington, November 1st, 1870."
Warren Lodge has been renumbered to Lodge No. 8 under the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Dis trict of Columbia. Brothers who are members of the Scottish Rite and the Order of Eastern Stars should know the name of Thornton Jackson well. He was a very prominent Mason in his day; serving as Sover eign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, AASR and he is also credited for forming the first Chapter of Eastern Stars among Blacks.
In the 1881 proceedings of the M.W. United Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of A.F&A. Masons for the State of Maryland and its Jurisdiction we find the following:
"The committee appointed by the Grand Master to visit Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg, West Virginia, reported that they visited Harper's Ferry on the 30th Day of May, A.L. 5881, and set apart Rising Sun Lodge, No. 34, and installed the following officers: Thomas Jefferson, W.M.; Thomas Edwards, S.W.; Henry Thomas, J.W. Number of members, 22. Visited Martinsburg,W.Va., on May31st, A.L.5881, and set an art Mt. Pisgah Lodge No.33 and installed the to Howmgomcers: H.T Keys, WM. CharlesHSmith, S.W.; George W. Green, J.W. Number of members, 40, and in a flourishing condition.
WALTER SORRELL, JOHN H. SMITH, JOS. H. LEE,
It further states that these lodges together with Star Lodge, No. 32 of Charlestown, West Va., held a Masonic convention and resolved to form a Grand Lodge for the state of West Virginia. They petitioned theGrand Lodge of Maryland to set apart said Grand Lodge and install the Grand Officers for the same. Their petition was met favorably and the Grand Master appointed a committee to install theofficers.
On the national level we have had three Im perial Potentates to come from this jurisdiction. Bro. Hiram Watty served as the second Imperial Po tentate of the AEAONMS from 1902 - 1904, John
H. Murphy, Sr (1913 -1915) and John H. Murphy, Jr (1935 - 1939). We currently have two Brothers who are elected Imperial Council officers and they are Right Worshipful Brother's Ronald Dickens (Imperial Recorder), Eastern G. Stewart (Imperial Auditor) and Warren L. Broomer has been bestowed thehonorof(ImperialAuditorEmeritus).Wearealso proud to have three Sisters from this jurisdic- tion who have been elected as Officers of the Impe- rial CourtDaughtersAuxiliarytotheAEAONMS. Sister Gwendolyn A. Moore (Imperial 2nd Lt Com mandress),SisterCherylR.Eggleston(2ndCeremo nialDaughter)andSisterJoanD.Campbell(Imperial outsideSpy).
At one time there existed 5 Supreme Coun cilsfortheAASRalthoughtheGrandConstitutionof 1862 only allowed two. A conference was held in 1887to"unite"theCouncilsintotwo.Atthatmeeting Bro. Lemuel G. Griffin, James A.Handy,
A.W. Tancil and Hiram Watty served as representa tives of the Baltimore Supreme Council. As a result of the conference two Supreme Councils were formed, namely the United Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction and the United Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction.
Emeritus Willard W. Allen served as Sovereign Grand Commander; Past Grand Secretary George T. Duppin served as Lt. Grand Commander and MWPGM Joseph P. Evans as Treasurer General - Holy Empire. MWGM Emeritus, SGIG Shelton D. Redden served as Lieutenant Grand Commander for the Southern Jurisdiction.
MWGM Emeritus Shelton D. Redden, Sr., also served in the capacity of President of the Con ferenceofPrinceHallGrandMasters,Inc.from2006
- 2009. And the Honorable Samuel T. Daniels, Sr., previously served as the Chairman of the Steer- ing Committee for the Conference of Prince Hall Grand Masters. The Chairman of the Steering Committee was the title of the presiding officer prior to the conference voting to change that position to that of President of the conference.
Thank you for your attention. REFERENCES:
1925ProceedingsoftheMWUnitedGrandLodgeof Maryland F&AM pg. 17, 105, 106,110
1881ProceedingsoftheMWUnitedGrandLodgeof the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity ofA.F.&
A. Masons for the State of Maryland and its Jurisdiction pg. 5, 6
1870 Proceedings of the First Colored Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Maryland pg. 5, 11
History of the Shrine (1893 - 1993) by Joseph A. Walkes, Jr pg. xii, xiii, xiv
History of Eden Lodge
Eden Lodge owes its origin to a group of young men who met at the home of the late Joshua Green with the desire of forming their own Lodge. Through diligent search, determination, and perseverance they petitioned the Grand Lodge of Maryland for a warrant or charter with the proper data and examination and on May 12, 1921 The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Maryland granted a Warrant of Constitution to open and hold a Lodge of Master Masons and designated it to be known as Eden Lodge #72! This authority was given to Joshua Green as Master, Paul Pierce as Senior Warden and William H. Taylor as Junior Warden. The doors of Eden Lodge #72 were opened. First paying tribute to the Master Builder, they begin to reach out and gather in young timber for the building of Eden Lodge. The determination of pioneers of yesterday laid the ground work for Masters of today. As the gavel of authority is handed down from generation to generation, let us never forget from whence we came and when at last our weary feet shall come to the end of their toilsome journey and from our grasp shall fall the working tools of life, may it be our portion to hear the One who sitteth as the Judge Supreme the welcome words, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord!”