Saturday, May 11, 2013

Back to the Roots: Retracing Enterprise Lodge #1(Portland, OR)

History and By-laws of Enterprise Lodge #1, compiled 1954

About a month ago, my wife had an idea of a family getaway to the city of Portland, Oregon for a visit to some family and a time of relaxation. Once the trip was finalized I began to recognize a great opportunity to visit a piece of Washington State Prince Hall history. Not even a week before my wife had made mention of the trip, I was in a taxing research for the history of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon. Having no website, and no address to the Grand Lodge, it was, to say the least, a bit frustrating. I began to look through the many friends I had on Facebook, and noticed a friend styled, Pha Acacia, and they were from Portland, Oregon. I began to reach out to, whom later I would find to be, the Worshipful Master of Acacia Lodge #6, WM Calvin Kyles. We finally got to speak on the phone to establish a sure connection and an entrance into the Jurisdiction of Prince Hall Oregon.

Retracing Masonic History in Washington State

According to accounts documented throughout the Jurisdiction of Washington, there were 3 jurisdictions operating in Washington State, prior to the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Washington and OREGON, A.F & .A.M.1Those jurisdictions were: Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. The first lodge to be established came out of the State of Iowa in 1890, in the city of Roslyn, Washington. And, although Iowa was working hard in the State, establishing Cascade Lodge UD as the first lodge here in the State2, it was 4 Lodges from the jurisdiction of Illinois that are recorded as the constituents of the Grand Lodge of Washington and Oregon: Enterprise Lodge #47, Washington Lodge #49, Inland Empire Lodge #53, and Compass Lodge (?).3

The first of those lodges, under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M., was chartered in 18914. That Lodge was Enterprise Lodge #47. According to their own history, they record:

On January 25th, 1891, a club was organized, and its membership consisted of Master Masons from the several Jurisdictions [North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma]…Brother John C. Logan, a member of said club, called together its members for a meeting on May 13th, 1891, at 61/2 S.W. Washington Street, Portland Oregon, for the purpose to organize a UD lodge of Master Masons…5

Enterprise Lodge remained a lodge Under Dispensation, for six months, until October 14th, 1891, it was chartered as Enterprise Lodge No. 47, A. F. & A.M.6 In December of 1891, the following Brethren were elected as the first installment of Officers:

“Bro. F.  H. Frazer Wor. Master
Bro. John C. Logan Sen. Warden
Bro. J. E. Colbert Jun. Warden
Bro. W. L. Plummer Secretary
Bro. C. A. Ritter Treasurer
Bro. W. R. Hardy Sen. Deacon
Bro. Wm. Wheeler Jun. Deacon
Bro. W. S. Carr Chaplain
Bro. E. H. Williams Sen. Steward
Bro. Fred D. Thomas Jun. Steward
Bro. G. W. McMurry Tyler
Bro. M. Bell D.D.G.M.”7

The question is, why would Washington claim a lodge that was established in Oregon as its first established Lodge for the State of Washington?

The question of African American history in Oregon also has its roots in the influx of African Americans who made a home in Washington State, and as we see in retrospect, our Masonic history takes the same complexion. During the time of 1830-1860, the State of Oregon was under Exclusion Laws “designed to prohibit slavery and exclude Negros, Chinamen, Kanakas and Indians from coming to Oregon.”8These Exclusion Laws were made a part of the Oregon State Constitution in 1857, which testifies to the resilience of Prince Hall freemasonry to fight through and establish itself in a Jurisdiction that passed Constitutional amendments set against African Americans, and inadvertently the development and growth of Prince Hall freemasonry in the region. The Planning Board of Oregon, in a paper dated February 13th 1993, traced the history of Portland’s African American community, which stated:

The Code [Oregon State Code] used language of Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to prohibit slavery. The law was occasionally challenged but remained a part of the new government. Yet, there was evidence that a number of blacks brought to the Pacific Northwest between 1840 and 1860 were slaves in fact, if not in name…of the 135 African Americans recorded as living in Oregon between 1850 and 1860 at least 14 were slaves.”9

Despite racist and oppressive legislation passed in 1862, and the constant threat of being expelled from the Oregon region, there was a settled community of African Americans in the city of Portland. By 1890, the population grew, and more African Americans were brought in from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia at the completion of the Portland Hotel, at the Pioneer Courthouse Square.10According to records, 75 African Americans men were brought in from these three states to work in the Hotel as barbers, waiters, and other service positions.

Jobs opportunities, merchant trade and slave immigration boosted the Portland African American population from 487 to 1, 186 between the years of 1880 and 1890.11And according to the U.S. Census, State of Oregon, Department of Commerce, as the overall population count for Oregon African American community saw a decrease in African American presence, one County of Oregon saw a rise from 44 percent to 78 percent, that was Multnomah County, the home of Portland, and Enterprise Lodge #1.

There is a direct correlation between the growth of the number of successful African Americans, and the development of Prince Hall freemasonry. According to one report:
“At the turn of the century, many African Americans were less than 40 years removed from slavery. Many were poor and illiterate and did not have any political power…Several community institutions were established at this time which provided Portland’s black citizens with political, social, and economic stability. Fraternal lodges, political and social clubs were formed.”12

One Brother, John C. Logan, was instrumental in giving a voice to the social and political issues of the day; he was not only a Masonic giant in Prince Hall history in the Pacific Northwest, but was a co-founder in one of the prominent African American newspapers in Portland, The Advocate.13

M.W. P.GM. J. C. Logan in regalia

I would like to post a photo of the excerpt, specifically on Fraternal Lodges in Portland, from the Portland Bureau of Planning's, History of Portland’s African American Community (1805 to the Present); compiled, February 1993, because it gives us an idea of what Prince Hall freemasonry contributed to the development of the city of Portland:

According to the above excerpt, Masonic Lodges of Prince Hall affiliation were already in existence around 1883, leading up to the organization of the club for Master masons on January 25th, 1891, which eventually became Enterprise Lodge #47. From all research, the Masonic connection was the Portland Railroad that traveled from Seattle to Portland, and the Jurisdictional affiliation of Illinois that has caused the Prince Hall Jurisdiction of Washington to claim an Oregon lodge as its own. Nevertheless, in 1903, the call was made to constitute a Grand Lodge for the state of Washington and Enterprise Lodge #47 returned its charter to the state of Illinois and was given a new charter, with the designation of Enterprise Lodge #1, with a member of its lodge (J. C. Logan) as the first Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington and Oregon, A.F. & A.M.


Enterprise Lodge #1 moved to various locations between 6 ½ SW Washington St. and 116 NE Russell St property that touted half a block, right off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in the heart of the Albina Community:

The old Grand Lodge building of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon

On Friday (4/12/2013), I decided to see where the Grand Lodge was located. I found a location listed on a tripod website for 116th NE Russell, and found that it was 1 mile from the hotel I was in. I then took off on foot walking the city of Portland to find the Grand Lodge, I found the location in the above photo, but it was no longer a Grand Lodge building. Later Saturday afternoon, once meeting up with Deputy Grand Master Michael Harper, I found out that the Grand Lodge had moved in 1995, but there were still many evidenced signs of the Enterprise Lodge’s residence at the 116 NE Russell St. location. The location that once housed Enterprise Lodge #1, was now a bar called, The Secret Society.


This is a side view of the old Enterprise Lodge/Grand Lodge of Oregon building, the lot seen vacant once held another building under the ownership of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon. This building leads into another widespread testimonial to the decline in finances in many Prince Hall jurisdictions, the selling off of Property, that in later years become valuable pieces of real estate in redeveloped communities. This property is now worth over 2 million dollars, and sits in a community that was once heavily populated by African Americans.

As stated, the building is owned by Matt, a Caucasian business owner, who also operates, The Secret Society bar and lounge. Matt was not present when we went in, but Justin (bartender) filled in nicely giving us some perspective on the name of the Bar, and the present ownership. The name Secret Society has nothing to do with masonry at all; in fact, none of the owners are masons.

[Pictured Above: Deputy Grand Master, RW Michael Harper, Secretary of Enterprise Lodge #1. The Brother is a very prominent member of the Portland community, and was a player for the Portland Trailblazers. He was a tour guide for the afternoon.]

Justin informed us that there was a group of drinkers that wanted an old classic Martini, so the present owner called it a Secret Society of drinkers for the Old classic Martini. 

However the owner came by the name, it could become evident to anyone with a small portion of understanding Freemasonry, that there is an “alleged” or “implied” Masonic connection, especially in the terms of Prince Hall Freemasonry in the State of Oregon.

As you enter the front door of the entrance, you are greeted by a set of winding stairs, lined on both sides with framed pictures of prominent Prince Hall Masons, from Duke Ellington to Al Sharpton:

DGM RW Harper standing at the Entrance

As we look to the right we find a framed picture of Prince Hall with a brief history of the ownership of the building:



We are informed in the photo that Enterprise Lodge #1 was housed at the NE Russell St. location from 1940-1995. According to recoverable records, the Lodge and Grand Lodge moved to various locations in the city:

1.      Hibernia Hall, 340 NE Russell St. 192515
2.      Fraternal Hall, 1412 N. Williams St. 194216
3.      116 NE Russell St. location until 199517

Prince Hall freemasonry was considered-along with the Church-two of the strongest organizations in the Black Community. Enterprise Lodge #1 has played a very significant role in uniting the Portland African American community, providing social and educational organs to raise the consciousness of the people. They tout a viable and strong line of succession of Masters from 1891 to the Present.18Many of who served the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington well, namely, J. C. Logan (3rd WM, 1895-1896) served as the first Grand Master19; William Wheeler (4th WM, 1897-1899) served as the first Grand Pursuivant20 and John W. Payne (7th WM, 1904) served as the first Grand Standard Bearer.21
In 1925, these Worshipful Masters were declared Permanent Members of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. for WA:22

1.      J. C. Logan
2.      George N. White (9th WM, 1908-1909)
3.      Fred D. Thomas (5th WM, 1900-1901)
4.      Edward W. Rutherford (10th WM, 1910-1912)
5.      W. H. Rutherford (13th WM, 1918-1919)
6.      John W. Payne
7.      Robert D. Bird (11th WM, 1913-1914)
8.      A. A. Jones (16th WM, 1924-1925)
9.      Phil Reynolds (15th WM, 1923)

In 1911, John W. Payne was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons for the Jurisdiction of Washington, and served until 1912.23

In 1940, Robert D. Bird was elected as Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons for the Jurisdiction of Washington24. Robert D. Bird would later go on in 1942 to be elected Grand Treasurer for the M. W. United Grand Lodge of F. & A.M., for the State of Washington, and serve in that office for over 16 years.25

In 1942, Enterprise Lodge #1 had 5 Brothers serving as Grand Lodge Officers:26

1.      RW A. A. Jones, Senior Grand Warden
2.      RW Robert D. Bird, Grand Treasurer
3.      RW W. H. LaBelle, Grand Lecturer
4.      WB W. H. Payton, Grand Standard Bearer
5.      RW Phil Reynolds, DDGM for Enterprise Lodge No. 1

In 1946, Portland touted 4 Brothers as Grand Officers: RW J. L. Wasson served as Deputy Grand Master, Robert D. Bird as Grand Treasurer, A. A. Jones as Grand Senior Steward, and Harry S. Payton as Grand Standard Bearer.27

That Grand Lodge participation fell off dramatically in 1947, recording only Robert D. Bird (Grand Treasurer) and Harry S. Payton (Grand Standard Bearer) as Grand Lodge Officers.

In 1948, there was a flood in Portland, Oregon where many Masons were affected, so recorded by MWPGM Robert D. Bird, and surely reflected in the regions ability to serve in Grand Lodge capacities.28In 1949 they added a Brother, RW Charles Rawlins as Deputy Grand Master of the State.29In 1958 we begin to see the decline in Grand Lodge representation, with MWPGM Robert D. Bird being retired as Grand Treasurer.


The importance of Enterprise Lodge is apparent when we look into the work of the Oregon Black History Project, A Peculiar Paradise: a History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940:30


These fraternal organizations provided important functions within the community. The Enterprise Lodge was composed of the more stable citizens of the black community; among other qualifications members had to be "free born," to pay their dues in cash, be of high moral character, and able to read and write. A lodge did not grant membership to transients; a man had to have a "settled abode" to be accepted. Dues collected provided for charity to the members, should they become sick or disabled, and for help to needy orphans and to the widows of deceased members. Lodges provided graves in-the lodge cemetery plot, and conducted funeral services.”

At 57th Annual Communication of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, at the Morning Session, it was reported that all Lodges in the State of Oregon were referred to Special Committee.30According to the Official Acts of MWPGM Johnny Allen, May 16th, 1960 GM Allen wrote a letter to WM Elijah Graham that he was “planning to visit Portland, Oregon with other Grand Officers and the Grand Master of California, Herbert A. Greenwood…to investigate ‘hear-say’ about a newly formed Grand Lodge”.31Below is a photo copy of the Report of the Special Committee concerning the formation of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon:32

(Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction 57th Annual Communication, 1960, held at Yakima, WA, July 11-13th, pg. 40)

The elected Grand Lodge Officials were as listed:

M. W. Freddie Williams, Grand Master of Masons
RW Arvell Denton, Deputy Grand Master
RW Roosevelt Creal, Grand Senior Warden
RW PGM Robert D. Bird, Grand Treasurer
RW James A. Wasson, Grand Secretary33

These and other listed Brothers were received as a delegation to the 57th Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington; this farewell address was delivered to the Craft by Grand Master Freddie Williams:

After 57 years of the most gratifying affiliation with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of Washington and its Jurisdiction, we have turned the pages on a condition we feel most needed and urgent at this time in the organization of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M., of the State of Oregon. It is with the greatest Masonic dignity and respect that we find ourselves disassociated from the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of Washington and its Jurisdiction. Disassociated only in the sense of a child venturing out from his mother to learn the ways of the world and to help in repelling that vicious demon (Clandestine Masons) that has sought ways to destroy the progress of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Jurisdictions. We shall always cherish the memory of our many deliberations and discourses, our ups and downs in the progressing of the most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, and will always maintain a warm spot in the archives of Masonry for our affiliation with you. May the Grand Architect of the Universe continue to guide, guard and bless you, so that we as direct exponents from the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M., for the State of Washington, in our new Masonic world can secure for the Fraternity in Oregon the Blessings of Masonic Privileges.
Fraternally Yours,
Freddie Williams, Grand Master
M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of Oregon”34

And with that, the Craft was called to refreshment from Labor, and the Lodges of Enterprise Lodge #1, Rocky Mountain Lodge #34, Beaver Lodge #38, Shasta Lodge #36, and two from Idaho35, surrendered their warrants, and bid the Jurisdiction farewell, to embark upon the Sovereignty as a sister Jurisdiction, in Due form and Regularity.

Enterprise Lodge #1 is still operating and functioning to this day with a group of Masons that have the Craft in their heart and a greater Jurisdiction in their vision. I want to extend a thank you to the Grand delegation that receive me and to Deputy Grand Master, RW Michael Harper for taking me on the tour of the city, and opening the door for fellowship in the coming years.

It is the sincere hope of this writer that the Washington Prince Hall jurisdiction moves to strengthen the relationship and communication with our Sister Jurisdiction. I can say that the Oregon Prince Hall Jurisdiction would welcome an open door to the Mother jurisdiction.

Written by: Hon. John L. Hairston is a Master Mason and member of J. C. Logan Lodge #53 of the MWPHGL of WA, Seattle, WA., where he serves as Interim Junior Warden, Assistant Secretary and Lodge Historian.
He is a member of the Northwest Chapter of the Phylaxis Society (Life Member). He is a member of The Masonic Society and the Correspondence Circle of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. Noted and Published Author.

Endnotes:
  1. Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington Masonic Code [Rev. 1977, Updated 1991], pg. XI, Prince Hall Masons Come to Washington.
  2.  Ibid. pg. XIII, First Negro Lodges in Washington.
  3. Proceedings of the Most Worship Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of the State of Washington and Oregon, 1904-1905, First and Second Annual Proceedings, held at Portland, Oregon June 22-24, Report of the Grand Secretary and Report of the Subordinate Lodges.
  4. Worshipful Masters excel worksheet compiled by the Grand Secretary of the MWPHGL of Illinois, RW Bro. Daryl Andrews, based on all of the dispensations and charters issued from the MWPHGL of Illinois for the years 1867-Present (2012).
  5. History and By-Laws of Enterprise Lodge No. 1, F. & A.M., Portland Oregon, compiled circa 1955, pg. 1. This was given to me by DDGM Bro. Michael Harper, also the Secretary of Enterprise Lodge #1 of the MWPHGL of Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
  6. Ibid. pg. 1
  7. Ibid. pg. 2
  8. The History of Portland’s African American Community (1805-to the Present), February 13th, 1993, Portland Bureau of Planning, Albina Community, pg. 2
  9.   Ibid. ppg. 3-4, Oregon’s Black Laws.
  10. Ibid. pg. 14 Portland Hotel.
  11.  Ibid. pg. 16           “
  12. Ibid. pg. 41 Fraternal Lodges
  13.  Ibid. pg. 38 The Black Press
  14.  Property entry
  15. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of WA, 22nd Annual Communication, 1925, held at Portland Oregon July 13th-15th, pg. 5
  16. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of WA, 39th Annual Communication, 1942, held at Portland Oregon July 13th-15th, pg. 1
  17.  Obtained from the Deputy Grand Master, RW Michael Harper, and the framed picture that graced the entrance wall of the Secret Society Bar and Lounge.
  18. History and By-Laws of Enterprise Lodge No. 1, F. & A.M., Portland Oregon, compiled circa 1955, ppg. 96-97.
  19. Proceedings of the Most Worship Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of the State of Washington and Oregon, 1904-1905, First and Second Annual Proceedings, held at Portland, Oregon June 22-24, pg. 6
  20.  Ibid. pg. 6
  21. Ibid. pg. 6
  22.  Proceedings of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of WA, 22nd Annual Communication, 1925, held at Portland Oregon July 13th-15th, pg. 6
  23. History and By-Laws of Enterprise Lodge No. 1, F. & A.M., Portland Oregon, compiled circa 1955, pg. 8
  24.  Ibid. pg. 8
  25. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of WA, 39th Annual Communication, 1942, held at Portland Oregon July 13th-15th, pg. 33
  26. Ibid. pg. 33-34 Elections
  27. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of WA, 39th Annual Communication, 1946, held at Portland Oregon July 13th-15th, pg. 59-6
  28. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction 45th Annual Communication, 1948, held at Spokane, WA, July 12-14th, pg. 7-8
  29. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction 46th Annual Communication, 1949, held at Tacoma, WA, July 11-13th, pg. 49
  30. A Peculiar Paradise: a History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940, Oregon Black History Project, Chapter 7 pg. 3
  31. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction 57th Annual Communication, 1960, held at Yakima, WA, July 11-13th, p. 1
  32. Ibid. pg. 13
  33.  Ibid. pg. 40
  34.  Ibid. pg. 44
  35. Ibid. pg. 44
  36. Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction 58th Annual Communication, 1961, held at Tacoma, WA, July 10-12th, pg. 44-45


  




















2 comments:

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  2. Thanks for the history. I have a 5x7 pic of my father and others who were in the Acacia Lodge No. 6 and on the banner it stated it was 'established January 7, 1963'. Are there any other pics from this era?

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