ORIGIN OF FREEMASONRY AMONG MEN OF COLOR IN AMERICA
In March, 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen other free Negroes of Boston Massachusetts were made Master Masons in Army Lodge 441 attached to one of General Gage’s regiments of the Irish Registry. From this group African Lodge #1 was organized on July, 3, 1776, by the authority from the Army Lodge. The same Lodge granted these Negroes authority to meet as a Lodge, to go in procession at St. Johns’ Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they could not confer degrees or perform 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. Finally on March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London for a warrant or charter. On September 29, 1784, the Warrant was issued, it was not delivered, however, until three years later owing to the fact that the brother to whom the matter was entrusted failed to call for it. It was delivered, however, on the 29th day of April 1787, by Captain James Scott, a seafaring man and incidentally, a brother—in-law of John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
African Lodge #459 was constituted by this Warrant May 6, 1787. Prince Hall granted a Dispensation to African Lodge 459 of Philadelphia on March 29, 1797; this Lodge was warranted June 24, 1797. Hiram Lodge at Providence, Rhode Island was granted a Dispensation June 10, 1797, and warranted June 25, 1797. That African Lodge #459 had authority to set up these lodges should be unquestioned, as it was customary among Masons in the 13th century for lodges to set up other lodges themselves. Especially was this the case in colonial United States. Thus, Prince Hall and his group were merely following an established precedent of their time.
Lineage of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Minnesota
Organized, August 16, 1894
March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen other free colored men were initiated as Masons in Boston by Army Lodge 441 of the Irish Registry. From this group African Lodge #1 was organized on July, 3, 1776, by the authority from the Army Lodge. On March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a Charter or Warrant. It was granted to them on September 29, 1784, naming Hall as Worshipful Master, but this Warrant did not reach Boston until April 29, 1787. African Lodge #459 was constituted by this Warrant May 6, 1787. Prince Hall granted a Dispensation to African Lodge 459 of Philadelphia on March 29, 1797; this Lodge was warranted June 24, 1797. Hiram Lodge at Providence, Rhode Island was granted a Dispensation June 10, 1797, and warranted June 25, 1797. That African Lodge #459 had authority to set up these lodges should be unquestioned, as it was customary among Masons in the 13th century for lodges to set up other lodges themselves. Especially was this the case in colonial United States. Thus, Prince Hall and his group were merely following an established precedent of their time. These three lodges met in general assembly at Masonic Hall on Water Street in Boston on June 24, 1797 and organized "African Grand Lodge'. The name was changed to 'Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Boston", July 24, 1808, and then to “Prince Hall Grand Lode of Massachusetts", December 11, 1847.
Between 1810 and 1814, African Grand Lodge established Union Lodge, Laurel Lodge and Phoenix Lode in Philadelphia. On December 27, 1815, these three lodges organized the "First Independent African Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania" and among lodges warranted by this Grand Lodge were: Corinthian ,#7, True American #26 and St. John's #27; all of these lodges were warranted in 1848, in Ohio. The three Ohio lodges named above subsequently organized the Grand Lodge for the State of Ohio in Cincinnati, May 3, 1849. The first Grand Master was J. W. Stringer. The Grand Lodge of Ohio established the following lodges in Missouri during 1853 and 1854: Prince Hall #10, Lone Star #22 and McGee Alexander's in St. Louis. These three lodges withdrew from Ohio in 1965 and organized a Grand Lodge on July 6, 1865, known as the "Grand Lodge of Missouri'. The Ohio Grand Lodge established the following lodges in Illinois: North Star #12, Chicago; G. T. Watson #16, Alton; Central #19, Springfield and Freemont #30, Shawneetown. On February 15, 1967, delegates from North Star, G. T. Watson and Central Lodges met in convention at Springfield, Illinois, to organize the "Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois". After the warrants and constitutions were returned to the Ohio Grand Lodge and other procedures were consummated requisite to establishing their Grand Lode, the convention adjourned to meet May 6, 1867 at Springfield to hold the first annual communication. Brother B. R. Rogers was elected the first Grand Master.
About 1875, the Grand Lodge of Missouri established the following lodges in Iowa: York #8, North Star #31, Des Moines; Sumner #41, Burlington; Golden Star #480, Ottumwa; and John G. Jones #91, Council Bluffs. The lodges operated under Missouri's jurisdiction until 1881 when they formed 'African Grand Lodge of Iowa." "Hiram Grand Lodge of Iowa" was formed August 26, 1884 by the following lodges, who acknowledged allegiance to the Grand Lodge of Missouri: Clark #6, Davenport; North Star #131, Des Moines; Sims #50, Oskaloosa; Star #45 1, Keokuk; Reed #79, Red Oak; Mount Olive #486, Cedar Rapids and Cedar Grove LJD, Cedar Grove. Confusion, strife and bitter feelings reigned during the struggle for Masonic supremacy by the to rival Grand bodies, African, under Grand Master George H. Clagget, and Hiram, under Grand Master Alexander Clark; they finally met in Des Moines in 1887 in convention and consolidated as the "Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge of Iowa, AF & AM", Brother George H. Clagget was the first Grand Master. This consolidation, therefore, brought peace, harmony and love to the troubled Masonic waters of this great state.
The various lodges in Minnesota previous to the organization of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota were instituted by the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodges of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. Thus, we have attempted to point out in the brief Masonic histories of our Mother Jurisdictions, herein before presented, that Masonry among men of color in Minnesota reveals an unquestionable, unbroken descent from African Lodge #459 of Boston, Massachusetts. The Minnesota Prince Hall Grand Lodge was organized on August 16, 1894. The names of the Lodges participating in this organization were at that time: Pioneer Lodge #12 of St. Paul; J. K. Hilyard Lodge #6 of Minneapolis; Minnesota Lodge #13 of St. Paul; Perfect Ashlar Lodge #148 of St. Paul; W. H. Stevens Lodge #41 of St. Paul and Doric Lodge #45 of Duluth. The first Grand Master was Thomas. H. Lyles, the first Grand Secretary was James Woodfork and the first Grand Treasurer was Joseph Adams.
To protect the corporate name of the Minnesota Grand Lodge from encroachment by spurious, illegal bodies of masons, the Grand Lodge in special session on June 2, 1950 voted to amend the Articles of Incorporation by changing the name to the "Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Minnesota and its Jurisdiction.' The amended incorporation papers were filed in the office of the Secretary of the State of Minnesota on June 8, 1950. The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lode of Minnesota claims sovereignty over the states of Minnesota and North Dakota.