Grand Lodge of Missouri History
Greetings “Seekers of Light!”
I bring you greetings from the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri, Free & Accepted Masons, P.H.A. & its Masonic Jurisdiction.
History of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missoui
The origin of the M.W Grand Lodge of Missouri began when the M.W. Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Ohio, established in 1849, chartered H. McGee Alexander Lodge #8 in St. Louis, Missouri in 1864, with George Phillips, Worshipful Master, D. R. Power, Sr. Warden, Henry Turner, Jr. Warden Frances Carter, Treas. and J. Q. Johnson, Secretary. Ohio Chartered Prince Hall Lodge #10 of St. Louis in 1856, with H. King Worshipful Master, F. Richards, Se. Warden, R. H. Petiford, Jr. Warden, W. P. Brooks, Treas. and H. W. P. Spence, Secretary.
At the Ohio Grand Lodge of 1865 there was much unrest, and Missouri members were largely ignored on the first ballot, however a Missourian was included for the office of Deputy Grand Master on the second ballot.
After returning from the Columbus Ohio Grand Lodge session, which ended June 24, 1865, the Missouri members convened in St. Louis to form a new Masonic center. The new organization was effected with Henry McGee Alexander as Grand Master, William P. Brooks, Grand Treasurer, William Robertson, Grand Secretary and Moses Dixon as Grand Lecturer.
Ohio had joined the National Grand Lodge in 1859. Using that as a precedent the new Missouri Grand Lodge petitioned the National Grand Lodge for a warrant on June 1, 1866.
The warrant, issued to Missouri, was signed by Richard Howell Gleaves, M. W. National Grand Master, William Edwin Gibson, M. W. National Grand Sr. Warden, Charles T. Dutcher, M. W. National Grand Jr. Warden, Henry Butler, M. W. national Grand Treas., affected by Jonathan Davis, M. W. National Grand Sec., the officers of The Most National Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity of Free & Accepted York Masons of the United States of North America, etc!, etc!
The committee on credentials reported the following masons as the legal representatives of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, Moses Dickson, Worshipful Master of Prince Hall #1, John Sexton, Worshipful Master of Lone Star #2, and J. Q. Johnson, Worshipful Master of H. McGee Alexander #3. The Lodges were reorganized in a different order than they had been chartered by Ohio.
In June of 1866, Grand Lecturer Moses Dickson organized nine other lodges: June 12th, J. M. Alexander Lodge at Helena, Arkansas. August 4th, Pioneer Lodge at St. Paul, Minnesota, August 11th, Clark Lodge at Muscatine, Iowa, September 20th, Capital City Lodge at Jefferson City, Missouri, September 26th, Western Star Lodge at Lawrence, Kansas, October 4th, York Lodge at Keokuk, Iowa, November 26th, Jeptha Lodge at Little Rock, Arkansas and December 11th Magnolia Lodge at Columbus, Mississippi; bringing the total number of lodges in the new Most Worshipful Missouri Grand Lodge to twelve.
Because of the large role that he played in the growth of Prince Hall Freemasonry in Missouri, allow me to include some biographical details about Rev Brother Moses Dickson.
He was founder of Knights of Tabor and Daughters of the Tabernacle, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 5th of April, 1824. He began his education in the common schools of that city and continued it in Smiths private academy at Plattsville, Wisconscin for three years. Afterwards he migrated to St. Louis where he taught school and became an active member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was ordained an Elder at Hannibal, Missouri, in 1872, by Bishops Paul Quinn and Alexander W. Wayman. Early on Brother Dickson developed a talent for organization, and being an active spirit, with more than ordinary magnetic power, became the center for those who were devoted to the best interest of his race. For sixteen years he had been engaged in the itinerant work of Methodism; and he was an organizer of societies for thirty-five years. He is, however best known as the founder of the Knights of Tabor and the Daughters of the Tabernacle, which he organized at Independence, Missouri., in 1872, with fifty members.
Brother Dickson was the Pastor of St. Peter’s Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of St. Louis. He also held the position of Deputy Grand Master of The National Grand Lodge of the Ancient York Masons. He was a member of the United Grand Order of Odd Fellows and of the United Brothers of Friendship. He was recognized as a leader among his people, and a man of great character. His advice was always sought for and his services often called into requisition. He was an elector at-large on the Republican ticket for the State of Missouri in 1872. He was active in the cause of public education and in everything that pertained to the material welfare of his people. He had been a delegate to every State convention in Missouri where the interest of his people was concerned. He was very successful as a presiding officer, and no one had more success at controlling the excitable temperaments of people of African descent as Moses Dickson.
Moses Dickson is a great example of the determined men of strength and character who served as Grand Masters for the formative years of the Grand Lodge. As Grand Lecturer, his fist position in the Grand Lodge, he established lodges spread over several States. Leading to the rapid growth of Prince Hall freemasonry in Missouri during the early years.
Prince Hall, was an avid and dedicated abolitionist. He worked for the freedom of all African American (Negroes) and established the first school in Boston for people of color. Through the years, Prince Hall masons in Missouri continued this effort. Early leaders and members were very active in the underground railroad and building schools, including the Institute now known as Lincoln University in Jefferson City. They built churches and other alliances to better the condition of “negroes” throughout the state.
The early Grand Masters of Missouri were men of such outstanding repute, that lodges were established in their names, public schools for Negroes also were named in their honor and public buildings dedicated with Cornerstone Laying Ceremonies. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri conducted its first Cornerstone Laying Ceremony at the Carondolet Chapel Church and School on May 27, 1869. It was the first laid by Prince Hall masons west of the Mississippi.
Missouri has had 42 Grand Masters:
1. H. McGee Alexander, St. Louis
2. Moses Dickson, St. Louis
3. Alexander Clark, Muscatine, Iowa
4. W. R. Lawton, St.Louis
5. N. Brent, Boonville
6. H.H. Pelham, St. Louis
7. R.W. Smith, St. Louis
8. H.H. Pelham, St. Louis
9. A.R. Chinn, Glascow
10. C. G. Williams, Frankford
11. M. O. Ricketts, St. Joseph
12. R. T. Coles, Kansas City
13. Nelson Crews, Kansas City
14. W.W. Fields, Cameron
15. Crittenden Clark, St. Louis
16. Eugene G. Lacy, Kansas City
17. Fred W. Dabney, Kansas City
18. Dr. G.B. Keys, St. Louis (served 10 consecutive years)
19. Eugene G. Lacy, Kansas City
20. W. H. Madison, Marshall
21. S.E. Moore, St. Louis
22. E.R. Bryson, St. Louis
23. Wilbur Kirkpatrick, Jefferson City
24. Curtis O. Finch, Kansas City
25. John B. Hughes, Springfield
26. William H. Scott, St. Louis
27. A. Cleveland Compton, St. Louis
28. William Reynolds, Kansas City
29. William H. Strawther, Lexington
30. Lawrence A. Jones, Sr., Kansas City
31. Preston O. Sanders, St. Louis
32. Melvin Smotherson, St. Louis
33. James N. Boyd, St. Louis
34. Lucas Lowery, St. Louis
35. Franklin Richardson, Kansas City
36. William H. Graham, St. Louis
37. Larry Bell, Sedalia
38. Charles R. Willis
39. Rodney Terry
40. Joe Berkley Lewis, St. Louis
41. Charles Jones, Hayti
42. Edward Johnson, St. Louis
Grand Master Moses Dickson served eight (8) years and was responsible for the rapid growth of the Grand Lodge. Grand Master, Dr. G. B. Keys served longest, serving ten (10) consecutive terms. He was an eminent Gynecologist who served and instructed at hospitals in Washington D.C., Kansas City and St. Louis. Grand Master Richard T. Coles, an educator, was a school Principle for fifty years in Kansas City and taught at “The Garrison School for forty of those years. He is credited with introducing “Manual Training” for Negroes that led to the establishing of the first Vocational and Junior High School for Negroes in Kansas City. Upon opening the School, the Board of Education voted to adopt his name for the school.
These Latter Years
Most of Missouri’s Grand Masters were great proponents of strict Masonic ritual and practice and due to the high esteem that Prince Hall Masons were held. The community’s, newspapers carried columns dedicated to Masonic events and news. Over the years the Grand Lodge would flourish. Lodges were formed in cities, towns and hamlets all across the state and spread to the country of Greece and into the Panama Canal Zone.
The decline of morality and responsibility in our society as a people has led to a “great disconnect” in as much as the American people have not adopted the Masonic principles of brotherly love relief and truth.
Into the Future
We thank you for your patience. The process of writing and sharing the enormous history of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri continues. Much, much more of it will be added to these accounts. I have attempted to share this small view of Missouri’s Prince Hall Jurisdiction.
Fraternally & Sincerely,
Robert N. Campbell, FPS
M.W.P.H.G.L. of Missouri & Jurisdiction
Research on the History of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri herein is derived from its Annual Proceedings from 1866 forward, also research previously done by P.M., W.B. Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., (King Solomon Lodge #15, . Now deceased.)