Prince Hall Grand Commandery Knights Templar
Historically, the Templar Order was established to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. As a military order, their efforts were performed with such zeal that Chivalric Masonry was designated to commemorate the qualities exhibited by those Knights of the past and the active promotion of the Order by English Freemasons led to her growth in America.
The first instance of the Order among American blacks was in the State of Pennsylvania in the 1820s. Passey Benjamine, native of the West Indies, was authorized by the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of England, to establish Commanderies in America and the West Indies. Upon becoming a resident of Philadelphia, Benjamine became a member of the Philadelphia African Lodge and established St. George Commandery from her members in 1820. With additional Commanderies established by the early 1830s, the First African Grand Commandery of North America was formed in 1832. During this time frame a split occurred within the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania causing the creation of the Hiram Grand Lodge within the State. The schism spawned two separate Grand Commanderies in 1844. Both existed separately for more than thirty years until merging on October 20, 1881 into the United Grand Commandery of Knights Templar.
Commanderies within the State of Illinois were established from members of Holy Royal Arch Chapters within the stated and were initially subordinate to the First African Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania. As a sufficient number of Commanderies had been established in Illinois during the mid 1800s, the Prince Hall Grand Commandery of Knights Templar for the State of Illinois was established in 1882 from these roots.