HISTORY - Most Excellent Prince Hall Grand Chapter Holy Royal Arch Masons

The history of the York Rite among Prince Hall Masons in the State of Illinois extends to the mid 1800s.

Holy Royal Arch Masons of the State of Illinois trace their roots to the State of Pennsylvania where the first Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons was established. The First Independent African Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter of North America was organized in Philadelphia on May 19, 1820. A schism within the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania occurred during this period which led to the formation of a second Grand Lodge, Hiram Grand Lodge, in the 1820s. As both Grand Lodges operated separately within the state through the 1840s, both maintained separate Concordant bodies throughout the rift producing multiple factions of Royal Arch Chapters within Pennsylvania during this time frame.

On June 14, 1844, Rising Sun Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons was organized in affiliation with the Hiram Grand Lodge from Union Chapter #1, Jerusalem Chapter #2, St. John Chapter #3 and Friendship Chapter U.D. By October 1844 a separate convention was called in Philadelphia with delegates from Union, Jerusalem and Friendship Chapters for the purpose of forming a separate Grand Chapter. After failing to achieve the goal of the convention, Friendship Chapter shifted its affiliation to the First Independent African Grand Chapter in December of 1844 which later reorganized to secure affiliation with the National Grand Lodge in 1847. It, then, continued expansion efforts by forming Chapters in the States of New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, California, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas and Washington, D.C.

Holy Royal Arch Masonry has been in existence within the State of Illinois since the mid 1850s and traces its roots to the First Independent African Grand Chapter. By 1879, four Chapters, namely, St. Mark, St. John, Eureka and Mt. Moriah, had been established across various points within the state and, on October of 1879, they gathered in the city of Chicago and organized a Grand Chapter for the State of Illinois. On October 9, 1879, the convention produced the Most Excellent Prince Hall Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons for the State of Illinois and Its Jurisdiction. Most Excellent Companion Joseph W. Moore was elected the first Grand High Priest, Excellent Companion William D. Berry was elected the first Grand Secretary and the four Chapters of the Illinois Jurisdiction were renumbered accordingly:

Compiled by PMEGHP Daryl L. Andrews