Sunday, May 12, 2013

Washington State and the Charge Against Clandestine Freemasonry Pt. 2

The Grand East for the State of Washington, Prince Hall


With the close of the 58th Annual Communication (1961), The Grand Lodge armed the Commission on Clandestine Masonry with a little over 43% of the adopted proposed budget for 1962 ($4, 500 of $10, 420)[1]. The Commission's cut would be almost 3 times the amount allotted for all the Grand Master's expenses for 1962. And, with M. W. Grand Master Johnny Allen in the Grand East, we find the Commission on Clandestine Masonry still on the forefront of the fight against Clandestine Masonry and Bogus practices.

M. W. Johnny Allen was most instrumental in defending the Jurisdiction against irregular, clandestine and bogus masonic practices. In the 56th Annual Communication, MW Johnny Allen made his Deputy Grand Master's Address, and stated this about, "Our Own Grand Lodge"[2]:

"My interest, of course, is what can be done to further develop and utilize our own rich resources[3], explore the potentials and complete this suit against Bogus Masonry."

And complete the suit they did. In 1961, the Grand Lodge won a resounding victory over the John A. Bell and Universal Grand Lodge factions, which only provided momentum for the coming years.


The 1962 Proceedings records clandestine movement in Bremerton, WA and the Prince Hall Lodges counter to heal over a clandestine lodge in the area:

"The Commission on Clandestine Masonry begs leave to make the following report:

During the month of August, 1961, the Past Masters of Bremerton informed us of the posibility of taking over the clandestine lodge in that city, or at least getting most of its members. Several meetings were held between the Past masters (P.H.) of Bremerton and the Commission. One meeting was held with the members of the bogus group."[4]

Even with said momentum, the Grand Lodge still faced legal difficulties with the upcoming Appeal. After the defeat in 1961, the John A. Bell and Universal Grand Lodge factions mounted another attempt to overturn the verdict. They filed for immediate appeal, which truly was a last ditch effort for the groups to salvage their losses. The Committee explained the difficulties in the Appeal process in the following report[5]:



pg. 63

pg. 64


I believe that it is equally important to emphasize what the Grand Lodge attorney, Mr. Maslan, was using in the form of documentation in the case, namely:
                
                       The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington (MS) 1897

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts 1897

Northern Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite proceedings for the years 1944-1946

I would also be interested to look into the Body of Law prepared by MW PGM Amos T. Hall of Oklahoma, these documents would be vital for any educational class or study group to build a solid and stable foundational knowledge of Prince Hall Masonry and its legitimacy.

The Committee report went into another interesting piece of information:

"Since our last Grand Lodge Session, another group of "degree peddlers" has set up shop in Seattle on 14th Avenue, near Yesler Way. Your Commission has not been asleep in this matter. Information in regards to them has been procurred and turned over to the attorney. Relative to this new group starting in the State, Evergreen Lodge #119, your group has given me certain information and I have been attempting to procure the other data."[6]

This particular group was of significant interest to me based on recent discussions with Bro. Michael Poll, owner and operator of Cornerstone Books Publishing, and Past Master of Etoile Polaire Lodge #1 in New Orleans, Louisiana. After a long discussions on the origins of certain Supreme Councils in the United States, I began to study the war between the Supreme Council of Charleston and Louisiana[7]. In all fairness, The Supreme Council of Charleston is considered the Mother of the Supreme Councils here in America, while the Supreme Council of Louisiana is not recognized nor considered regular by the the greater Masonic body. Read the material and judge for yourself.

Why would I go there? the group, Evergreen State Lodge #119 who was now on the radar of the Commission on Clandestine Masonry was actually a Lodge of predominately African Americans chartered by the Supreme Council of Louisiana!

pg. 64, 1962 Proceedings of the MWPHGL of WA[8]

The Commission wrote to the Secretary of State in Olympia looking to receive the documentation on the incorporation of the Evergreen State Lodge #119, only to find that there was no DOMESTIC articles of incorporation, but later found that they had registered as a foreign corporation, under the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third and Last Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of freemasonry of the State of Louisiana. Evergreen State Lodge filed with the Secretary of State on September 1, 1961, and according to records the Supreme Council of Louisiana that chartered them was incorporated in Louisiana in 1870. Very interesting indeed.

I didn't have the 1963 Proceedings (MWPHGL of WA) available, but the 1964-67 Proceedings show scant reports of the Commission on Clandestine Masonry. I have an opinion of why, according to what could be interpreted in the Proceedings of 1962, leading up to 1968. 

MW Johnny Allen was in the Grand East in 1962 and 1963, which is why the Commission was given the latitude to operate in the Jurisdiction. Even without the 1963 Proceedings, we can conclude that the Commission would only have the same liberty to pursue these bogus outfits. Yet, in 1964, under the administration of MW Sylvester J. Lake, we begin to see a shift in policy and priority. The Commission isn't listed as a Committee appointment for the 61st Annual Communication[9], and their report was not written, and contained only 4 lines in the proceedings on pg. 52. This is most likely due to the task of the Commission Chairman, George Jorden handling other duties as Grand Treasurer as well as the later expulsion. We find this action repeated until the year 1968, where we find a FULL special report, and a new Chairman in the person of none other than, Past Sovereign Grand Commander (NMJ), Russell S. Gideon[10].

I believe it also worthy of note, that the clandestine groups were now more bold in their operations, incorporated as Masonic entities, complete with public appearances with full regalia, and newspaper articles advertising their functions. The Proceedings of 1968 listed these groups operating in the Jurisdiction[11]:

 1968 listing of Black Clandestine groups in the State of Washington

To note, The Supreme Council out of Louisiana has chartered another Lodge, Alma Lodge #133, and both lodges were now located in Tacoma, WA. At this point it is time to recognize a connection between the Evergreen State Lodge #119 and the Sons of Hati Grand Lodge #1, and the later Supreme Council of the Sons of Hati. If you scroll back up to the document labeled, pg. 64, 1962 Proceedings of the MWPHGL of WA, you will read in that document the name, John R. Bullock as President of the Evergreen State Lodge #119. At this time he was claiming to be under the Supreme Council of Louisiana. Later in 1972, we will find this same Bullock in connection with the Sons of Hati:
pg. 31, 1972 Proceedings of the MWPHGL of WA[11]

pg. 32, Ibid.

John Bullock was listed as President of the Evergreen State Lodge #119 faction, who claimed lineage to the Supreme Council in Louisiana. I did contact Bro. Michael Poll (noted author and Scottish Rite researcher) and inquire if this was the same Supreme Council of Louisiana that his own Lodge, Etoile Polaire #1 was once under before the merger with the Supreme Council of Charleston. I did inform him that the incorporation date was 1870 in Louisiana, which he informed me "was the date of the Post Civil War incorporation."

This group seems to have obtained the Constitutional number of 33rds together to form the Supreme Council of the Sons of Hati, establishing a Grand Lodge (#1) in Pasco, and chartering lodges in the State. This group also seemed to have many different pieces to its clandestine amalgamation, as we go into the corporation papers with the Secretary of State of Washington State[12]:
1. 

M.W. SONS OF HAITI GRAND LODGE NO. 1, OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
Date of Incorporation 12/21/1962 
Address JOHN R BULLOCK
     2015 E YESLER WAY 
     City SEATTLE 
     State WA 
     Zip 98122


2. 
GRAND COLLEGE DES RITES, SUPREME CONSEIL OF THE SONS OF HAITI FOR THE
Date of Incorporation 08/10/1962

3. 
SUPREME COUNCIL OF THE THIRTY-THIRD DEGREE OF THE ANCIENT AND ACCEPTEDD SCOTCH RITE OF FREE MASONRY OF THE STATE
Date of Incorporation 09/23/1994 
Agent Name LEWIS B BETHEA 
Address 1943 S SPRAGUE 
     City TACOMA 
     State WA 
     ZIP 98405


Later, in the year 1999, the Sons of Hati would heal over to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, under the administration of MW PGM William C. Rheubottom[13]:

 Washington Masonic Community Monitor, 1999

Continuation of the Sons of Hati article

Although their Grand Master and many of the Grand Lodge officers of this group was healed over to the MWPHGL of Wa, we have to also state that the group did not go away. There is ample evidence that the group still operates in King County, and was in possession of the same building (Washington Hall) being operated and maintained by Evergreen State Lodge #119 in 1962, 14th and Yesler Way. They sold the building in 2008, and moved their headquarters to Renton, Wa as reported in the Seattle Times newspaper in 2008:

"No one disputes the 100-year-old Yesler Terrace building is rich in history. Not the Supreme Council of the Sons of Haiti, the black Masonic order that now owns it and has put it up for sale.
Not Historic Seattle, a nonprofit group devoted to preserving historic places, which would like to preserve it as a historic site. And not DKA Architecture, a possible buyer that is considering turning the building into housing units.
But whether the building ends up as condominiums or is preserved as a historic landmark depends solely on who offers the best price.
Charles Adams, a building manager and an officer with the Sons of Haiti, said the group, which purchased the building in 1973 for $50,000, hopes to sell it for $2 million to $2.5 million so it can buy a newer building in Renton for meetings and activities."[14]
Let's rewind all the back to 1968.
With a replacement of Chairman over the Commission of Clandestine Masonry, and a return to the priority of defending the Jurisdiction against intrusion by bogus outfits, we find a full "Special Report" presented to the Grand Lodge. In addition to the report concerning the activities of BLACK bogus groups, we have the first reference to a white group on the radar of the Commission[15]:

"Your Committee, during the course of our investigation, was aware of the activities of certain OTHER [emphasis mine] Masonic groups which, although they have not been recognized by the M. W. Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of Washington[16], claim legitimate Masonic authority, and conduct themselves in accordance with masonic usage and standards. Your Committee has no evidence that such groups are clandestine, and they are not included within the recommendation of this report."
Interestingly enough, the 1968 Proceedings also reveals the offer of $10,000 from the white Grand Lodge of Washington, to the MWPHGL of Wa "to be used to obtain counsel and assist Prince Hall Masons in the Washington Jurisdiction in their attempt to eradicate clandestine [lodges]."[17] This offer was approved by the white Grand Lodge of Washington, based on the "recent bogus Scottish Rite activity". Yet, when I went to the Proceedings of both the 1967 and 1968 of the Grand Lodge of Washington (White), we could find no traces of an approval of said recommendation to extend the offer of $10,000 to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge to fight bogus masonry[18].
I truly believe that this created a shift in the method in which the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington battled with black clandestine groups as we will later see. The issue is why couldn't we find the "approval of recommendation"?
Could it have been that, at this time, the Grand Lodge of Washington did not recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge OFFICIALLY? We do know that from the 1967 Proceedings of the 110th Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington (white), that on August 14th, 1966, a Grand delegation met with the "Heads of the Prince Hall Lodge, Seattle":

1967 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington (white)

The Grand Lodge of Washington (white) had already attempted to recognize the Prince Hall masons in 1898, but was repudiated by almost all of the Masonic Grand Lodges in America. I have personally seen all of the correspondences of the Grand Lodges to the Grand Lodge of Washington archived in the Grand Lodge Library in Tacoma, WA. This mass severing of fraternal ties, caused the Grand Lodge of Washington to rescind their initial resolution, and deny recognition to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. Official recognition did not come until 1990[19]. Could it be that the MISSING recommendation was due to the Grand Lodge of Washington not wanting those Grand Lodges they were in relation with to see that they were giving finances and assisting an unrecognized Prince Hall Grand Lodge?
Nevertheless, the Committee came with several prerogatives to continue the fight with clandestine groups:
1968 Proceedings of the MWPHGL of Wa
Please take note of prerogative #1, as this sentiment led to an important shift and development in 1971, we will get into in Part 3 of this series.

1969, we saw an intensified movement on both sides to create a joint attack on the issue of bogus masonry, Chairman Russell S. Gideon explained it this way[20]:

pg. 68

You can read the shift in sentiment. What the Committee was conveying was that Clandestine masonry isn't just a BLACK problem, BUT a MASONIC problem, and if we are to rid the Jurisdiction of the issue, then it would take the finances and efforts of both Grand Lodges. And, so the M.W. Grand Lodge of Washington sent their delegation to the table to map a joint strategy[21]:

Ibid. pg. 68

The strategy was three (3) fold[22]:

Ibid. pg. 68

The Grand Lodge of Washington would file suit against the the Secretary of State[23], which would create a stop to clandestine groups receiving authorization from the State to operate as Masonic entities. There was to be a significant move to exert a more aggressive community outreach, and feature articles in the Masonic Tribune that would shine a favorable light on the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington. How did the push fare at this point? You will have to wait for Part 3 of this series, which will feature 1970-79.

Written by Honorable John  L. Hairston, MPS-Life, Phylaxis Society, Northwest Chapter
J. C. Logan Lodge #53, F. & A.M.

If you have questions concerning this article or any other on the Quill and the Sword, please contact me at johnhairston357@gmail.com




















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