History of Most Worshipful
Prince Hall Grand Lodge by way of
|Dispensation was granted to Eureka Lodge No. 11, A.F.
& A. M. by Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge,
State of Massachusetts on February 4 A.D. 1866, A.L. 5866
Anthony L. Stanford, W.M. James M. Simms, S.W. Barcus S.
Davidson, J.W. (suspended; King S. Thomas, Secretary;
Stephen Johnson, Treasurer. The Charter was granted to
Eureka Lodge No. 11, A.F. & A. M. June 24 A.D. 1866,
A. L. 5866, by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand
Lodge, State of Massachusetts. This Charter was
surrendered and on 24June A.D. 1870, A.L.5870 and said
Eureka Lodge No.11 became Eureka No.1 under the
Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand
Lodge of Georgia. For the existance of this Lodge we must
give unstinted appreciation to the early fathers of
Masonry, and should ever preserve their memory. This
Lodge was formed through the efforts of Judge J. M. Simms,
who afterward became our first Grand Master. Eureka Lodge
has the proud distinction of being the first Black secret
organization to be formed in Georgia, a distinction that
we should proudly wear, and for which we are indeed very
thankful. In Savannah, there were a number of brethren of
a receptive mind who craved the light of Masonry, even
thought the smell of gun powder and the echoing of
cannons of the civil war for freedom were yet in the air,
and the great struggle of the North and the South was
ongoing. The formation of a Masonic Lodge was on the
minds of several brethren for many years. Several of
those brethren were free men and under the usage of
Masonry and were qualified to receive the secrets of the
order. At that time colored men were not allowed to have
any gatherings what so ever except for religious purposes.
Immediately after President Lincoln issued the
Emancipation Proclamation the brethren who were
interested in the formation of a Lodge started to hold
meetings. These meetings were held at the home of brother
Stephen Johnson, who resided on Pine Street in a house
that adjoined West Broad Street School. Several attempts
were made to have the Lodge set up but it was very
difficult to secure the required number of Masons to
assist in the work. Therefore, the work had to be delayed.
Finally in March of 1866 by a dispensation granted by the
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
Eureka No. 11 was organized in the building which today
occupies the site of the Chatham Bank and Trust Company
located west of Johnson Square. Bro. A. L. Stanford
served as the first Worshipful Master. He was made a
Mason in Philadelphia. Bro. J. M. Simms served as the
first Senior Warden and was made a Mason in Boston. Bro.
K. S. Thomas was the first Junior Warden and was made a
Mason in New York. Bro B. S. Davison was the first Senior
Deacon. He was made a Mason in New York. Bro. James
Jackson was the first Senior Stewart and was made a Mason
in Philadelphia. Bro Miller Mac was Junior Stewart. He
was connected with the white jurisdiction of Georgia. He
was informed that the brethren needed one more person to
start the Lodge, so being a liberal mind, he offered his
assistance. As the names of the officers indicated, the
members of this Lodge was among the leading and most
prominent men of the Africian race in the city of
Savannah. At its exception, the Lodge grew to such a
large number that some of the brethren were given their
demits so that John T. Hilton Lodge No. 13 could be
formed. Bro. James Jackson continued to assisted in the
organization of Eureka Lodge and acted as the Senior
Stewart. He also helped to organize Bannaker Lodge and
became the first Worshipful Master. The first Lodge
building on the Southwest corner of Bay and Lincoln
became the home of the First Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Grand Lodge of Georgia.
Our First Grand Master and founder of Eureka No.1 and Prince Hall Masonry in Georgia
Merilus Simms (Born Savannah, Georgia on December 27, 1823; died July 9, 1912 in Savannah, Georgia) Reverend Simms\rquote s mother was owned by the Potter Family. She was able to save three hundred dollars to purchase her son's freedom from slavery. In his youth, it was a crime to teach blacks to read and write. Young James Simms acquired the ability to read and write when his slave owning white father sent for a French tutor to teach the white children on the plantation. He allowed his slave son to be taught not only to read and write, but also to learn several languages. Simms then taught many slaves to read and write and was reprimanded and publicly whipped for his actions. He was active in encouraging black men to join the Union Army after President Lincoln issued orders permitting them to join. Samuel Gordon Morse and Reverend John Nesbitt were two black Savannah men who heeded Simms call and joined the Union Army. Simms acted as chaplain among several Army posts in Florida and Georgia. He later received a Union Army pension until his death. During Reconstruction, he represented Chatham County in the Georgia Legislature, and was appointed Judge of the senatorial district about the same time of the term of Richard W. White. Richard W. White was the first republican, black man to serve as the clerk of the Chatham County Superior Court. Simms served as a Customs Inspector and was engaged in the work of the Freedmens Bureau in Savannah. He was appointed Judge by Governor Bullock of Georgia. In his youth, he was quite musical and had a band that played at local social events for both blacks and whites. When the Civil War reached Savannah he sailed to Trinidad and then to Boston, Massachusetts for one year. At this time he was made a Mason. He was also ordained a Baptist Minister. He returned to Savannah on February 2, 1865. In 1866, he organized Eureka Lodge No. 11 which later became known as Eureka No. 1. Bro Simms became the District Deputy Grandmaster for the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which covered Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Afterwards, he organized Hilton Lodge, Banker Lodge of Augusta, and later the Grand Lodge of Georgia in August 22, 1870. Simms became the first black Masonic Grand Master in Georgias history. By 1871, he left his membership at First African Baptist Church where he was baptized by Reverend Andrew Cox Marshall, April 1841. He served as the church clerk in 1858 and helped build the new church on Franklin Square in 1859. In 1871 he joined First Bryan Baptist Church. He became a deacon and trustee board member. In 1888 he wrote The First Colored Baptist Church in North America, which entailed the history of First Bryan Baptist Church. He was a newspaper editor. He owned the Southern Radical and Freedmens Journal. Simms played an important role in the movement to bring the Georgia State Industrial College to Savannah. Today the college is known as Savannah State University. October 7, 1891 he served as the Colleges first proctor under the direction of President Richard R. Wright Sr. Reverend Simms funeral was conducted at the First Bryan Baptist Church. Reverend Daniel Wright presided. Judge and Mrs. Simms were parents of James U. H. Simms, Wendel P. Simms, David G. W. Simms, Plutarch Simms and a daughter Mrs. Isabella Simms Reid. The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia placed a monument over Grand Master Simms grave June 1920. Over five hundred Masons marched from the old Masonic Temple on Gwinnett Street near West Broad to Laurel Grove Cemetery South to dedicate the monument. Sol. C. Johnson, along with H. R. Butler, who at that time, was Grand Master for Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia and Reverend George Dwelle who had participated in the organization of the Grand Lodge in 1870 were present at the ceremony for Simms. While the service was conducted at Laurel Grove South for Reverend Simms the officials placed a wreath on the graves of Past Grand Masters John H. DeVeaux, A.K. Desverney and Alexander Harris.
James Hooker (born January 30, 1835 in Savannah, Georgia; died December 22, 1908) Bro. Hooker was a member of First African Baptist Church at Franklin Square. He was elected a Deacon. A brick mason by trade, Bro. Hooker was also a skilled craftsman who worked at setting boilers in manufacturing plants in Savannah and Camden County, Georgia. He was one of the organizers of First African Baptist Church which is located on Bolton Street. He served as treasurer at the time of his death. Bro. Hooker, one of the oldest Masons during that time in Georgia, was among the first to be initiated into Eureka Lodge No. 1. Afterwards he joined Pythagoras Lodge and served as treasurer. He and Mrs. Hooker were the parents of Miss Sadie Hooker (Savannah Tribune) December 26, 1908.
Dr. Phillip E. Love (born about 1870 in Auburn, Alabama; died May 12, 1942 in Savannah, Georgia). Dr. Love came to Savannah as a young boy and made it his home. He was known as the Dean of Local Physicians in Savannah. He was a graduate of Leonard Medical College in Raleigh, North Carolina. After completing his medical training, he returned to Savannah and began a life-long practice of medicine. He was the second colored city physician, after Dr. Simons Palmer Lloyd, appointed in Savannahs history. Dr. Love was an ardent supporter of the Charity Hospital and was the Dean of its medical Staff and on the Board of Trustees. He was a member of First African Baptist Church from childhood. He was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 1, Ezra Consistory No. 27, Scottish Rite Masons, and Omar Temple No. 21 Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
Captain W. D. Armstrong (born January 13, 1861, Owens Ferry, Georgia; died January 17, 1914 in Savannah, Georgia). Captain Armstrong was for many years one of the leading black politicians of the area, and for two years served as chairman of the Republican County Committee. He held a pilots license and was well known along the Savannah River. He was a leading member of the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias(Olympia Lodge and at that time the J. W. Armstrong Lodge) and also a member of Eureka Lodge No. 1 Free and Accepted Masons. He was a member of St. Philip A.M.E. Church on West Broad and Charles Streets.
Duncan J. Scott (born 1881 in Savannah, Georgia; died January 7, 1934 in Savannah, Georgia) Bro. Scott was one of Savannahs leading businessmen at time of his death. He was educated in the public schools of Savannah and graduated in the Class of 1903 at Fisk University. After graduating from Fisk, he entered the dry goods business with his brother Bro. Walter S. Scott. The business was located on the five hundred block of West Broad Street. He was assistant manager of the Royall Undertaking business. He was closely identified with the life insurance business, holding the position of first vice-president of the Guaranty Life and Health Insurance Company. Bro. Scott was treasurer and trustee of the Carnegie Library on Henry Street. He was a pioneer in establishing the scouting movement for African American boys in Savannah. Bro. Scott was Exalted Ruler of Weldon Lodge of the Elks for many years. Duncan and his brother Walter were members of Eureka Lodge No. 1 Free and Accepted Masons. Duncan was a prominent member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church where, for twenty-five years, he was a vestryman and church secretary.
Reverend Ulysses L. Houston (born February 1825 in South Carolina died; 1889 in Savannah, Georgia) Reverend Houston succeeded Reverend Garrison Frazier as the ninth pastor of Third African Baptist Church (flow First Bryan Baptist Church) in 1861. He was baptized as a member of Third African Baptist Church on June 27, 1841 by Reverend John Benjamin DeVeaux who was pastor of the church. He was made a deacon of Third African Baptist Church on November 3, 1851, and was licensed to preach in 1855. He was the first pastor of Third African Baptist Church to come directly from the membership of the church. Houston, along with John DeVeaux, James M. Simms, Alexander Harris, Charles DeLamotta, Louis B. Toomer, and others was a charter member of Eureka Lodge No. 1 A.F. and A. M. in 1866. He was elected several times as the moderator of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and seventeen years as moderator of the Zion Baptist Convention. In 1866, under the leadership of Reverend Houston, Third African Baptist Church became First Bryan Baptist Church as a member of the Zion Baptist Association. Reverend Houston served in the Georgia Legislature during Reconstruction from 1869-1871. On January 12, 1865, Reverend Houston and nineteen other black ministers met with General William T. Sherman and Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, in the Green-Meldrim Manson to discuss the future of blacks in Savannah after the Civil War (Forty Acers and a Mule). Reverend Houston was a close personal friend of Reverend Alexander Ellis when he was pastor of historic Second Baptist Church, and also participated in the installation ceremonies of Reverend Emanuel King Love when he became pastor of First African Baptist Church on October 1, 1885. Reverend Houston succumbed to a lengthy illness and died on October 2, 1889, after twenty-eight years as pastor of First Bryan. Thousands attended his funeral at Laurel Grove Cemetery. By 1892, three years after his death, First Bryan Baptist Church erected a twelve foot monument in his honor a the Laurel Grove Cemetery. Reverend E. K. Love, Reverend Alexander Ellis, Reverend W.L.P. Weston, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Reverend William Jefferson White, one of the founders of Morehouse College, participated in the dedication of the Houston monument. Bro. Houston served as Chaplain for Eureka Lodge No 1 from 1866 until ______________.
Charles L. DeLamotta (born March 30, 1822 in Charleston, South Carolina; died December 30, 1886 in Savannah, Georgia). DeLamotta was baptized as a member of First African Baptist Church by Reverend Andrew Cox Marshall in 1844. On October 12, 1862 he was elected deacon. For many years he was the superintendent of Sunday School at First African Baptist Church. He was a lifelong friend of the Reverend Alexander Harris. Charles DeLamotta and Reverend James M. Simms were delegated to the National Baptist Convention in 1876 (Savannah Tribune, April 15,1 876). Bro. DeLamotta served as the Second Senior Warden for Eureka Lodge No. 11 in 1867 presently known as Eureka No. 1 F. & A.M. He also served as Worshipful Master in1867 and again in1870. In 1874 he served as treasurer. He assisted M.W.G.M. Louis Tommer of the Grand Lodge of Georgia in the installation of officers on December 23, 1873. Installation services were performed at the Hall on 138 S. Jullian Street. At the time Bro DeLamotta was the R.W.G.T.
Major William Royall (born 1847 in Savannah, Georgia died; March 30, 1905 in Savannah, Georgia). Major Royall was the first black man to own a mortuary in Savannah, Georgia. He had a flourishing business which was located on West Oglethorpe Avenue. He was a vital force in the Colored Militia in Georgia, and in 1877, was among the first commissioned officers (captain) of Savannah Light Infantry- Company D. He commanded the Savannah Light Infantry until he was elected Major of the First Battalion Georgia State Troops Colored and served from 1890 to January 1900. In 1903, by special order No. 46, A.G. 0. , Major Royall was placed on the roll of Retired Officers, Georgia State Troops. He was the first black to be placed on the retirement register. He was a stalwart deacon of First Bryan Baptist Church during the pastorates of Reverend Ulysses L. Houston and Reverend George W. Griffin. Royall was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 1 Masons; Armenia Lodge Odd Fellows. His funeral services were conducted at First Bryan Baptist Church on April 2, 1905. His eulogy was delivered by Reverend George W. Griffin, pastor and Dr. Cornelius McKane his personal friend. By November 1, 1908, Lackland M. Pollard became the manager of the Royall Undertaking Company. He was assisted by Paul J. Steele, and W.H. Burgess. Major William Royall was married to Ellen Royall and the father of three sons. His son Charles Royall ran the family business after his fathers demise. Sol C. Johnson was one of the executors of the Royall estate.
Alexander Harris (born July 19, 1818 in Savannah, Georgia; died 1909 in Savannah, Georgia). Harris, a former son, deacon, trustee, and interim pastor of First Bryan Baptist Church, was one of the most powerful black religious and civil leaders in Savannah during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. He was a free man all of his life. He lived in Augusta as a young man and worked as a blacksmith there. He was conscripted into the Confederate Army during the Civil War and served as a member of the Republican Blues drum and bugle corps. He has the Southern Cross of the Confederate States of America at his gravesite . He was with Reverend Garrison Frazier and the other nineteen black ministers who met with Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, and General William T. Sherman on January 12, 1865 at the Green-Meldrim Mansion, which resulted in Sherman issuing Special Field Order No. 15, historically known as Forty Acres and a Mule, on January 16, 1865 from the field of Savannah. Harris founded First Bryan Baptist Church on West Board and Waldburg Streets in 1873, the Mount Olive Baptist Association in 1872, and he was the pastor of historic Nicolsonboro Baptist Church for many years. Harris, with James Simms, Reverend E.K. Love, J.H .C. Butler, James Ross, John McIntosh, and others helped to bring Georgia State Industrial College to Savannah in 1891. He was one of the oldest Masons in Georgia and was among the first persons to be initiated in Eureka Lodge No. 1 of Savannah on February 4, 1866. (Savannah Tribune, October 16, 1909). Bro. Harris served as Junior Deacon of Eureka Lodge No. 11 presently Eureka No. 1, in 1866. He served as Senior Deacon of the Lodge in 1867. In 1868 he was the Junior Warden. In 1869-1870 Bro. Harris served as Senior Warden. Bro. Harris was Worshipful Master for Eureka No. 1 in 1871. Bro. Harris was Grand Master for the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Mason for the Jurisdiction of Georgia from 1883 to 1886.
Sol C. Johnson (born 1867 in Laurel Hill, South Carolina; died March 1, 1954 in Savannah, Georgia). Johnson came to Savannah when he was a small boy. He was a self-made man and received his only formal education at West Broad Street School . He learned the printing craft by working as a printers devil at the Savannah Echo which was owned by Thomas Harden. He was employed by John H. DeVeaux at the Savannah Tribune. He acquired ownership of the Savannah Tribune in 1889 and ran the paper until his death in 1954. He was assisted by Mrs. Willie Mae Ayers Johnson, his goddaughter. He held elected offices with the Masons to include Grand Secretary, for a period of over fifty-four years. He was an organizer of the Order of the Easter Star in 1898. He served as patron of the Chapter for more than thirty years. Johnson was president of the Board of Trustees of Charity Hospital, trustee of Carnegie Library and an organizer of the West Broad Street YMCA. He served as clerk of First Congregational Church for many years and was chairman of the churches trustee board. Sol C. Johnson High School was named in his honor by the Chatham County Board of Public Education.
Richard Mole Sr. (born January 30, 1931 in Savannah, Georgia; died 1999) Bro. Mole Sr. attended Beach Cuyler High School. He graduated from Savannah State College in 1957 with a B.S. degree in General Science. He continued his education at Georgia Southern College and earned a Masters of Education Degree in Administration and Supervision. He pursued Officers Training in the United States Air Force where he served for four years. He was a Korean War Veteran. A long-term educator, Mole Sr. served as a science and mathematics teacher, as well as, Assistant Principal of Sol C. Johnson High School. He was part of the first faculty at this school. Mole Sr. served at Richard Arnold High School as principal for two years. Later, in 1976, he joined the staff of A.E. Beach High School where he served as principal for thirteen years. He was affectionately known as Chief. His tenure exemplified supreme leadership as noted in the 1987 landmark edition of the Golden Bulldog. Mole Sr. ended his education career as Executive Directory of Secondary Schools of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools for two years. In 1996 Mole Sr. was elected to the fifth district Board of Education as a representative and served as Vice-President pro-tempore until his death. He also served on the local Zoning Board of Appeals. Bro. Mole Sr. was a member of Butler Presbyterian Church for forty-four years where he served on the personnel committee and as treasurer. He was a member of Eureka Lodge No. 1 Free and Accepted Masons, Ezra Consistory No. 27 Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Omar Temple No 21 Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, NACCP, Liberty City Community Association, and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.