Origins of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

under the Prince Hall Affiliation in the Orient of Ohio

Through the Formation of the Ohio Council of Deliberation

THE BEGINNING

The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry arrived in the state of Ohio in the years well before 1868 when the Ohio Council of Deliberation of our counterparts was formed. Ohio Consistory in the Valley of Cincinnati was chartered in 1853.

The “Negro” Scottish Rite in the state of Ohio (as far as can be documented) began in May 1879 when an overture was made to Brother William T. (Theodore) Boyd.

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through correspondence with Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander Joshua D. (David) Kelley 33°

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of the King Fredrick Supreme Council of the 33° and Last Degree of the A. and A. S.R. Rite of Free Masonry of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the U.S.A. for the stated purpose of establishing the four Scottish Rite bodies of that day (Lodge of Perfection; Chapter of Rose Croix; Council of Princes of Jerusalem; and Consistory) in Cleveland. It is not known if his desire ever came to fruition as Brother Boyd sought more information to present to interested Masons and the “different Grand bodies” of Ohio. The information was sent, but there appears to have been no action taken. Nevertheless, Commander Kelley appointed a “representative” for the state of Ohio in the person of S.G.I.G. William M. Wiley 33°.

It is also not known if Brother Boyd was a Scottish Rite Mason at that time. It is possible that he was, but his membership has not been documented.

Little more than 1 year later, in August 1880, Brother Samuel W. (Wilcox) Clark

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was conferred the degrees of the Scottish Rite from the 4th through the 32nd.

Following not too far behind was the aforementioned Brother Boyd. He was conferred the Thirty-Third and Last Degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry on Thursday, April 11, 1881. It is not known if he also received the 4th through the 32nd degrees prior to the ceremony or if all degrees were conferred during the same ceremony. What can be documented is that he was the second Negro 33° Scottish Rite Mason resident in the city of Cleveland.

Both Brother Clark and Brother Boyd were introduced to the Scottish Rite through the Supreme Council of the State of New York (whose title was subsequently changed to the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, of the 33rd of the A.A.S.R. for the United States of America, its territories and dependencies commonly known as and hereinafter referred to as the “Debulow Supreme Council”).

Cleveland

On (Holy) Thursday, March 22, 1883, the first Scottish Rite body of any affiliation for Negro Masons in the state of Ohio was chartered in the city of Cleveland—White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix de H.R.D.M.—was established. It is not known why the name “White Rose” was chosen. Illustrious Boyd is listed as the first Most Wise and Perfect Master.

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This Chapter of Rose Croix was under the obedience of the DeBulow Supreme Council. What the Cleveland Fraters did not know at that time was that Illustrious Baron Augustus Hugo DeBulow—the first Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council that casually bore his name—did not have the permission of the Supreme Council of France to visit the United States and erect a Supreme Council for Negros. In fact, he was a suspended Mason. The formation of White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix falls under the masonic version of fruit-of-the-poison-tree doctrine. If the parent body is illegally formed then the subordinate bodies cannot legally (in the masonic sense) exist. It is not known if the Fraters knew this or were even concerned.

At the time of the Chapter’s formation S.G.I.G. Patrick H. (Henry) Reason 33° . . .At the time of the Chapter’s formation SGIG Patrick H. (Henry) Reason 33° . . .

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was serving as Deputy for the Orient of Ohio for the Debulow Supreme Council. Just 4 years prior he completed a term as the second Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of the DeBulow Supreme Council while living in the city of Cleveland.

His successor was S.G.I.G. Peter W. (William) Ray 33°. . .

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who served as the second Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of the DeBulow Supreme Council from 1879 through 1892.

Cincinnati

About 4 months after the Cleveland body was chartered, Commander Ray and Illustrious Reason instituted Red Rose Chapter of Rose Croix No. 7 in Cincinnati in August 1883. It is not known why the name “Red Rose” was chosen.

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The first Most Wise and Perfect Master was Frater Samuel W. Clark. Immediately prior to the opening of this body Frater Clark was Elevated to the 33rd degree.

Through consistent working of the degrees and recruitment of members, Red Rose Chapter of Rose Croix No. 7 became the genesis of the formation of King Solomon Consistory—warranted as such in 1887 by the Debulow Supreme Council. Again Illustrious Clark led the way. He served as the first Illustrious Commander-in-Chief.

Meanwhile in the city of Cleveland, White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix continued to operate for the next 13 years with Illustrious Boyd at the helm. Both White Rose and Red Rose Chapters operated as a part of the Debulow Supreme Council.

JOCKEYING FOR POSITION

Northern Jurisdiction

In May 1896, Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander George W. (Wellington) Roper 33° of the legitimately formed United Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Thirty Third Degree of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America (the name and style at the time [USC NJ]) appointed G.I.G. Archibald (Archie) I. Billows 33° of St. Cyprian Consistory No. 4 in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a Special Deputy for the Orients of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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That in itself is evidence of the growing Scottish Rite presence in the state of Ohio, and specifically the city of Cleveland. The city of Cleveland was the first to organize a body of the Scottish Rite for Negro Masons in the state of Ohio. It is not known, however, who, if anyone, had been conferred or communicated the degrees of the Scottish Rite under this affiliation at that time.

Southern Jurisdiction

It is also worthwhile to note that during this time that the modern day territorial boundaries between the two “recognized” Negro Supreme Councils—the USC NJ and the United Supreme Council of the Sovereign, the Grand Inspectors General of the 33d and Last Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern and Western Jurisdiction of the United States of America (the current day United Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America [USC SJ])—had been established, but not necessarily rigidly adhered to. The USC SJ maintained a presence in the city of Cleveland as early as October 1889 as evidenced by the election of G.I.G. Thomas H. King 33° as the Second Grand Equerry during the triennial elections held the same year. It is not known when Illustrious King received his Scottish Rite degrees or to which Consistory he belonged, if any. It is likely he operated as a member at large.

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A little more than a year later, in December 1890, Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander Thornton A. Jackson 33°

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appointed Samuel B. Brooks of Cleveland as the Deputy for Ohio. At this time there was no Consistory in the city of Cleveland. This happened, notably, prior to John G. Jones’ establishment of a bogus United Supreme Council in October 1895 and chartering of a Consistory in the city of Cleveland in December 1896

John G. Jones arrives in Cleveland

Around 1896, White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix seemingly disappeared from the listings in Cleveland city directories. However, seemingly out of nowhere, another Scottish Rite body arose.

In late 1896, the vision of John G. (George) Jones,

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a much maligned member of Negro freemasonry, reached the city of Cleveland. On Monday, September 28, 1896, John G. Jones arrived in the city and conferred the Thirty-Third and Last Degree of Freemasonry upon Jerry E. Reed; Samuel B. Brooks; and Benjamin M. Shook.

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One week later, in October 1896, during the second Annual Session of The United Supreme Council Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern and Western Masonic Jurisdiction of the U.S.A. and Canada (John G. Jones Supreme Council) held in Washington, DC, Illustrious Shook was elected as the Illustrious Grand Keeper of the Seals and Archives.

Unique is the fact the Illustrious Shook was elected to a United Supreme Council position—which is normally reserved for Active members—before he held membership in a Consistory.

Later that year the full vision of John G. Jones came to fruition. On Friday, December 11, 1896, Imperial Consistory (No. 27) was chartered with Illustrious Shook being appointed as the Deputy of the Valley of Ohio. It is not known why the name of “Imperial” was chosen.

A logical assumption can be made that this Consistory absorbed and supplanted the Scottish Rite body in existence before it—White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix.

The first officer corps was composed of the following Fraters:

S.P. Robert Davis 32°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief
G.I.G. Jerry E. Reed 33°—Illustrious Deputy Commander
S.P. George L. Ross 32°—Illustrious 1st Lieutenant Commander
S.P. C.H. James 32°—Illustrious 2nd Lieutenant Commander
G.I.G. William T. Anderson 33°—Illustrious Grand Minister of State
G.I.G. Thomas Kinzie 33°—Illustrious Chancellor
S.P. Eli J. Lucas 32°—Illustrious Treasurer
S.P. L.J. Price 32°—Illustrious Registrar
S.P. William T. Lane 32°—Illustrious Keeper of the Seals and Archives
S.P. G.W. Teger 32°—Illustrious Hospitaler
S.P. H.W. Tucker 32°—Illustrious Engineer and Architect
S.P. Cyrus H. Adams 32°—Illustrious Master of Ceremonies
S.P. William H. Barber 32°—Illustrious Sword Bearer
S.P. J.H. Oliver 32°—Illustrious Standard Bearer
S.P. John Lee 32°—Illustrious Captain of the Guard
S.P. S. Snowden 32°—Illustrious Tyler

At the time Imperial Consistory was chartered, John G. Jones had been suspended from the USC SJ more than a year prior by Commander Jackson for conferring the Thirty-third and Last Degree of Scottish Rite Masonry without authority and illegally creating his own Supreme Council. These offenses occurred subsequent to Jones not being elected as the Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander; not being re-elected to his position as Puissant Lieutenant Grand Commander; and instead being elected as the Grand Chancellor—two positions lower than that he previously held—during the elections of the same month.

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That firmly places the origins of the John G. Jones Supreme Council in bogus, clandestine, and spurious territory. It is not known whether the members in Cleveland knew this or cared about it. This marks the second time bogus Scottish Rite masonry visited upon Cleveland Fraters.

Nevertheless, these Fraters wasted no time in getting to work! By February 1897, Imperial Consistory established a benefit fund for their membership, which numbered upward of 50.

The Consistory operated in the usual manner until about 1906. It too disappeared from the fabric of the city and the city directories in much the same fashion as its predecessor—White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix.

Milton F. Fields Arrives in Toledo

Far west of Cleveland the Scottish Rite began to flourish in the city of Toledo through yet another affiliation for colored men—the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd Degree, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry for the Northern and Western Jurisdiction (Milton F. Fields Supreme Council). Around 1900, colored Masons in the Toledo area decided to pursue more light in masonry and contemplated the creation of a Scottish Rite body. Eventually St. Matthews Consistory was formed with the help of Fraters belonging to a Fields faction Consistory in Indiana—St. Stephens Consistory of Fort Wayne—which had been chartered the year before. St. Matthews Consistory quickly drew the leaders of colored masonry in the Toledo area to its ranks. Well respected Masons such as Charles A. (Albert) Cotrill and William E. Clemens.

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were members. By 1903, Frater Cotrill was serving as Illustrious Commander-in-Chief.

According to the history of St. Matthews Consistory, at this meeting, with Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander Milton F. Fields 33° in attendance,

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the Consistory voted out the funds ($25) for a charter. That is contrary to modern day practices, however. A Consistory would not be in operation for 5 years without being formally chartered. In this case the Consistory operated under dispensation.

A Curious Organization

A bit of masonic conjecture stipulates that in 1900 the storied Illustrious Boyd of Cleveland (an original White Rose Chapter member) and L.D. Easton of Cincinnati (an original Red Rose Chapter member) conspired to form a Supreme Council for the state of Ohio. Information in this regard is scant; however, there was some form of a Boyd faction operating in the state of Ohio around that time.

Interestingly enough around the turn of the century there were three separate factions of Scottish Rite masonry operating in the state of Ohio—none of them masonically legal due to irregularities in their formation and/or lineage. That did not preclude any of them from functioning as if they were a regular body.

Milton F. Fields Arrives in Dayton

Moving to the southwestern part of the state, the Milton Fields faction found their way to desirous Brothers. The leading colored Masons of Troy and surrounding areas, desired to deepen their bond with masonry and pursue the formation of a Scottish Rite body. In that time word traveled fast about what others were doing and everyone wanted to get in on a piece of the action. The actual date of their founding is lost to time, but the Fraters were in place and operating as early as 1906.

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Just like the Toledo group they were named St. Matthews. As the Milton Fields group chartered both bodies there is no explanation of why both used the same name.

THE AWAKENING

Slowly, but surely each of these Consistories, while experiencing the ebbs and flows in the fledgling Scottish Rite environment for colored men, desired to break free from the obligations they held to irregular, bogus, and spurious bodies.

Bezaleel Consistory

Imperial Consistory, led by Deputy Shook entered into correspondence with the USC NJ about aligning with a competent Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. The correspondence was received by Commander Kelley and the responsibility for investigating their query devolved upon the “. . . Deputy for the State of Michigan and Surrounding States” S.G.I.G. James F. (Frank) Rickards 33°. Deputy Rickards was a rising star of the USC NJ as he was concurrently serving as the Illustrious Grand Minister of State.

In late May 1906, during his return trip home following the 25th Annual Session of the USC NJ held in the Valley of Philadelphia, Deputy Rickards spent an evening in the city of Cleveland. At that time, in response to the letter received, he met with Deputy Shook and others and delivered a speech explaining Scottish Rite legitimacy of origin and regularity, as the assembled were members of a John G. Jones Consistory—Imperial Consistory. Deputy Rickards then basically, performed an altar call for those wayward and duped Scottish Rite Masons to remove the shackles of irregularity and pledge their allegiance to a competent authority by reciting the Oath of Fealty. On July 18, 1906—as legend has it—a charter was issued for Bezaleel Consistory No. 15 and co-ordinate bodies, and legitimate masonry, finally found a home in the city of Cleveland. Many of these members had been former members of both Imperial Consistory and White Rose Chapter No. 5, Rose Croix. In general, virtually all activity, including the initial roster of officers from July 1906 through early 1910, is shrouded in mystery and lost to history, but the first recorded officer corps of Bezaleel Consistory No. 15 and co-ordinate bodies in 1910 were as follows:

Bezaleel Consistory No. 15
G.I.G. Cyrus H. Adams 33°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief

Hiram Chapter No. 15, Chapter of Rose Croix
S.P. George L. Ross 32°—Most Wise and Perfect Master

King Solomon No. 15, Lodge of Perfection
S.P. J.W. Johnson 32°—Thrice Potent Master

King Solomon Consistory

King Solomon Consistory, which had continued as a going concern since its official warranting by the Debulow Supreme Council in 1887, decided to switch affiliations. The reasoning behind this change and who initiated it is unknown, but on February 6, 1909, Deputy Rickards, accompanied by Illustrious Alex J. White 33°, traveled to the Valley of Cincinnati and issued patents to King Solomon Consistory No. 20.

The following Fraters served as the initial officers of the Consistory:

S.P. William H. Andy 32°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief
S.P. W.W. Cordell 32°—Illustrious 1st Lieutenant Commander
S.P. Howard T. Greer 32°—Illustrious 2nd Lieutenant Commander

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L.D. Easton Consistory

Very little information exists about the early days of L. (Lewis) D. (Depugh) Easton Consistory No. 21. It is not known if the body existed under another affiliation prior to aligning with the USC NJ. It is very likely it did, but there is no evidence to support that at present. On Saturday, March 6, 1909, Deputy Rickards, again accompanied by Illustrious White, travelled to the city of Columbus to constitute and institute L.D. Easton Consistory No. 21. The first officers installed were:

S.P. William Buckner 32°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief
S.P. Joseph D. Lee III 32°—Illustrious 1st Lieutenant Commander
S.P. Hubert C. Mitchell 32°—Illustrious 2nd Lieutenant Commander

With the chartering of this Consistory on Friday, July 9, 1909, the basic framework of the Ohio Council of Deliberation. (OCOD) was in place. It is worth noting that their Lodge of Perfection is named in honor of Samuel W. Clark.

L.D. Easton . . .

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was a member of King Solomon Consistory and prior to that, Red Rose Chapter. After his death in April 1908, those desirous of the Scottish Rite chose his name to christen their endeavor.

OHIO COUNCIL OF DELIBERATION

Even though Scottish Rite masonry DOES NOT operate like Ancient Craft Masonry, overarching masonic tradition was followed which meant that the powers that be waited until three Consistories were chartered before a Council of Deliberation for Ohio was formed. At that meeting in March 1909, after L.D. Easton Consistory No. 21 was constituted and instituted by Deputy Rickards, the Fraters of the Orient chose noted masonic legend Illustrious Boyd to be the first Most Illustrious Commander-in-Chief and Deputy for the Orient of Ohio proper. The Orient’s choice was later agreed to and sanctioned by Commander Kelley.

Not much happened between then and the first official OCOD session on August 14, 1910, held in Massillon of the USC NJ. One item of note is in May 1910, during the 29th Annual Session held in the city of Philadelphia, Deputy Boyd was elected as the Illustrious Grand Minister of State.

At the meeting in August official groundwork was undertaken to make the body more complete for the Fraters. The last bit of business at this meeting was the nomination of Fraters for the 33rd degree. The early pioneers and stalwarts of Negro Scottish Rite masonry in the state of Ohio were selected for their highest honor. Among those names were Frater Charles E. (Edward) Gordon and William E. (Ellison) Moore.

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St. Matthews Consistory (Toledo)

In March 1911, St. Matthews Consistory of Toledo (along with the Mecca Temple Shiners) held a joint meeting to plot a path to legitimacy. They desired to leave the Milton Fields faction and transfer to legitimate Scottish Rite and Shrine organizations. They voted to express their desire to affiliate with the USC NJ and forwarded their request to then Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander James F. Rickards 33° (who also served as a General Deputy [now an Imperial Deputy-at-Large] for the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine North and South America and its Jurisdictions, Inc. [AEAONMS]). Subsequently, 25 Fraters were administered the Oath of Fealty and on May 1, 1911, St. Matthews Consistory No. 24 was chartered by the USC NJ. Mecca Temple was rechartered as Mecca Temple No. 43 in the Oasis of Toledo by the AEAONMS.

The following Fraters served as the initial officers of the Consistory:

S.P. R.A. Madison 32°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief
S.P. Albert A. Payne 32°—Illustrious 1st Lieutenant Commander
S.P. Joseph R. Moore 32°—Illustrious 2nd Lieutenant Commander

St. Matthews Consistory (Dayton)

After bearing witness to a St. Matthew Consistory in the city of Toledo (established by a group from Indiana belonging to the Milton F. Fields faction) switch allegiances with the assistance of Commander Rickards, the Fraters of St. Matthews Consistory of Troy, Ohio decided to follow suit. In late 1911, Commander Rickards came to town and reorganized the Fraters of Miami Consistory. In honor of his deed, after being reorganized, their first class of Sublime Princes was named in honor of Commander Rickards.

The following Fraters served as the initial officers:

St. Matthews Consistory No. 26
S.P. Eugene Jones 32°—Illustrious Commander-in-Chief
S.P. Clarence E. Hall 32°—Illustrious 1st Lieutenant Commander
S.P. Frank P. Sewell 32°—Illustrious 2nd Lieutenant Commander

Melchisedeck Chapter of Rose Croix No. 26
S.P. John Anderson 32°—Most Wise and Perfect Master
S.P. John Williams 32°—Most Excellent and Perfect Knight Senior Warden
S.P. Louis G. Raglin 32°—Most Excellent and Perfect Junior Warden

Trojan Lodge of Perfection No. 26
S.P. Robert Williams 32°—Thrice Potent Master
S.P. Frederick Huggard 32°—Deputy Grand Master
S.P. Simeon Lewis 32°—Senior Grand Warden
S.P. Louis Harris 32°—Junior Grand Warden

These are the five Consistories of the Orient of Ohio.

History researched and compiled by—

G∴I∴G∴ Reginald B. Stewart 33°
Grand Historian
Ohio Council of Deliberation

information published 25 July 2019