General History

Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:33

M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan History


A Condensed History of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of
Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Michigan
By: Elmer L. Wallace, Past Grand Master

In the year of 1857, M.W. John G. Britton, Grand Master of the State of Indiana granted a dispensation to his Deputy Grand Master, John W. Harrison and a group of masons residing in the City of Niles, Michigan to open the first lodge of colored masons in this State. To be known as Harrison Lodge, U.D., which was granted a charter-January 13, 1859; and became Harrison Lodge No. 6 on the list of Indiana Lodges. Hart Lodge No. 10, of the City of Ypsilanti, Michigan was granted a Charter by the same authority and was Dedicated and Constituted by James S. Hinton, Grand Master of Indiana, with J. W. Harrison, D.G.M.

In the year of 1864, M.W. John W. Harrison, who was now Grand Master of Indiana, granted dispensations to open U.D. Lodges in the Cities of Battle Creek and Williamsville. These Lodges later became Strothers Lodge No. 12-Battle Creek, Michigan, and Saint James Lodge No. 14 of Williamsville, Michigan.

The representative of these four lodges (Harrison Lodge No. 6, Hart Lodge No. 10, Strothers Lodge No. 12 and Saint James Lodge No. 14) met in convention, in the City of Niles, Michigan and after adopting a Constitution, organized this Grand Lodge for the State of Michigan, on April 25, 1865. The following Grand Officers were elected: John W. Harrison, M.W. Grand Master; Daniel Mills, D.G.M., Thomas Jones, S.G.W.; James Hays, J.G.W.; John J. Evans, G. Treasurer; Isaac Burdine, G. Secy.; T. J. Martin, G. Lecturer; J. E. Williams, G. Tyler. The M.W. National Grand Lodge, of the United States of North America granted a Grand Lodge Warrant to this body, October 18, 1865; bearing the signatures of Paul Drayton, M.W.N.G.G.M.; R. H. Gleaves, M.W.N.D.G.M.; Lewis Hayden, M.W.N.S.G.W.; William Edwin Gipson, M.W.N.J.G.W.; James Needham, M.W.N.G. Treas.; Ezra J. Morris, M.W.N.G. Secy. of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons. This document is still among the archives of our Grand Lodge.

At the sixth Annual Grand Communication of this Grand Lodge held in the City of Detroit, Michigan June 17, 1872 the following lodges were enrolled and represented, with dates of institution: Harrison Lodge No. 1 (1857), Niles; Hart Lodge No. 2 (1863), Ypsilanti; Strothers Lodge No. 3 (1864), Battle Creek; St. Paul Lodge No. 4 (), Detroit; St. James Lodge No. 5 (1864), Williamsville; St. Peters Lodge No. 6 (1865), Kalamazoo; St. John's Lodge No. 7 (1866), Adrian; St. Nicholas Lodge No. 8 (1866), Jackson; St. Mary's Lodge No. 9 (1867) Ann Arbor; Hiram Lodge No. 10 (1869), Detroit; Zion Lodge No. 11 (1870), Pontiac; Salem Lodge No. 12 (1872), Windsor, Ontario; Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 13, (1872), Detroit; Cyrus Lodge No. 14 (1872), Battle Creek; North Star Lodge No. 15 (1872), Grand Rapids. (The last four Lodges were granted Charters, June 20, 1872.)

Following the lead of the Grand Jurisdictions of Pennsylvania and Ohio, our Michigan brethren took the necessary steps to throw off the yoke of tyranny for which they had been burdened for so many years and at a meeting in the City of Detroit, the craft by a vote of 69 to 4 adopted resolutions expressing their views of the illegality and irregularity of the National Compact and declared that hence-forth they would consider themselves independent of its authority. Consequently, Hiram and Mt. Pavan Lodges of Detroit, and North Star Lodge of Grand Rapids secured dispensations from the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Ohio, to form these three lodges, looking forward to the organization of an independent Sovereign Grand Lodge. After due time had expired they received their Charters and opened communication with the Craft throughout the State.

A mass convention of masons was called to meet in the City of Detroit, Michigan, September 23, 1872. Pursuant to the call, representatives of from Strothers Lodge No. 3, Battle Creek; Hiram Lodge No. 10, Detroit; and North Star Lodge No. 15, Grand Rapids; Zion Lodge No. 11, Pontiac, and many other brethren throughout the State, met and organized. These lodges by the virtue of their warrants, formed themselves info an Independent Sovereign Grand Lodge under the style and title of Unity Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Michigan, with M.W. Brother Harrison J. Lewis, of Hudson as Grand Master and Brother Wilmot A. Johnson, of Detroit, as Grand Secretary. The first Annual Communication of Unity Grand Lodge convened in the City of Detroit, Michigan, January 13, 1873, the Constitution was adopted and also the Resolutions to form a committee of three to petition the State Legislature to incorporate this Grand Lodge. A committee of five was appointed to draft a petition to the Grand Lodge of Michigan, F. & A.M. (white) for recognition.

Meanwhile the (Compact) National Grand Lodge, expelled all who had withdrawn their allegiance from its authority. This adverse condition prevailed until at their annual communication in the City of Jackson, Michigan, December 7-10th, 1875; they, the Compact Grand Lodge, unanimously voted to rescind all masonic disabilities imposed upon the members of Unity Grand Lodge and passed a Resolution that a committee be appointed with the purpose of uniting these two Grand Lodges and their members. This union was not consummated until eight years later. At one of the Conferences held in the City of Kalamazoo, Michigan, November 23 1886, by the representatives of the two Grand Lodqes after mature deliberation the following Preamble and Resolution was adopted:
"Whereas:  We the representatives of the two Bodies existing in the State of Michigan believing that the existence of two masonic Grand Lodges is detrimental interests of all concerned, therefore, be it
Resolved: That the two Grand Lodges unite as one under the name and title of Union Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. for the State of Michigan.

This action was confirmed by both Grand Bodies at their next Annual Communication, and on January 26, 1887 Unity Grand Lodge adjourned sine die, and Union Grand Lodge was organized.

After the adoption of the Constitution of Unity Grand Lodge, the Grand Officers were then elected, and Union Grand Lodge was opened on the third degree of masonry with M.W. Grand Master elect, John J. Evans, presiding The Grand Officers were duly installed by P.G.M. John Harrison.

For a period of thirty seven (37) years Union Grand Lodge prospered guided by those dynamic and intrepid Grand Masters who had given stability and fame to this Masonic Grand Jurisdiction. In the year 1940, M.W. Elmer L. Wallace, Grand Master, anxious to preserve this organization against the inroads of non Prince Hall Masons' made the following recommendation, which was approved by the Committee on Jurisprudence at the Seventy-Sixth Annual Grand Communication, held in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan and adopted at the 77th Annual Grand Communication held in the City of Lansing, Michigan, April 25, 1942. This initial step taken by our Grand Lodge was followed 2 years later by all but two jurisdictions; thus the Grand Lodge was foremost in designating to all our legiti-macy as Prince Hall Masons.

This Grand Lodge has grown from four Constituent Lodges to forty-seven and has a membership of over five thousand master masons. Forty-five Grand Masters have graced our Grand East, and we look forward to a most brilliant future of service to T.A.A.O.T.U. and to humanity.

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M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan

3100 Gratiot
Detroit, MI. 48207
Email : [email protected]

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