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PRINCE HALL GRAND COUNCIL
ROYAL AND SELECT MASTERS, PHA

ESTABLISHED APRIL 26, 1998

A HISTORY

 

At some point in time there was a realization that a missing link in York Rite masonry existed among the family of Prince Hall of masons in the jurisdiction Virginia.  Traditionally the degrees of Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master was given under the auspices of the Knights Templar.  By its own Constitution and By-laws thereof, neither the Grand Commandery nor a subordinate Commandery could give these degrees.

 

During the administration of M.W.P.G.M. Lionell Spruill, a grass roots effort led by P.G.H.P. Braxton W. Mitchell began to lay the ground work for the introduction of Royal and Select Masters in the jurisdiction of Virginia.

 

Under the administration of M.W.P.G.M. William F. Milton, Jr., a request was sent to R.G.T.I.M. Charles E. Jones, Prince Hall Grand Council, Royal and Select Masters of Pennsylvania, and his staff to visit Virginia, and elevate worthy Virginia Royal Arch Masons, who had applied for the cryptic rite, in the Royal and Select Masters degrees. P.G.H.P. Braxton W. Mitchell JR was appointed as a coordinator for this historic event.  R.G.T.I.M. Charles Jones designated P.R.G.T.I.M. Kermit C. Downs as a Special Deputy to Virginia.

 

On March 29, 1997, at the Hampton Conference Center, Holiday Inn, P.R.G.T.I.M. and Special Deputy Kermit C. Downs greeted and elevated 63 Royal Arch Masons in the degrees of Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master. R.G.T.I.M. Charles Jones of Pennsylvania then created four (4) councils under dispensation.  UD Council Arlington #16 was one of the four councils. 

 

On 17 May 1997, thirty worthy Royal Arch Masons, having applied for the Cryptic Rite degrees, traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be elevated as Royal and Select Masters.  Each member of the previous group and this group were designated as “Charter Members” with certain special rights and privileges as contained in the initial Virginia Constitution.  There are one-hundred-twenty-six (126) charter members.

During March 1998, after each council was one year old, each U. D. Council elected new Thrice Illustrious Masters as follows: Curtis Vaughan JR #13; Garland Jones #14; Sherman Thomas #15; and Fred L. Hill #16.

 

On March 28, 1998, the four U. D. Councils were released from Dispensation by the R.G.T.I.M. Charles E. Jones, Prince Hall Grand Council Royal and Select Masters of Pennsylvania in order to form a Virginia Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters.

 

On Sunday, April 26, 1998, four (4) legally constituted subordinate councils operating under letter warrants from the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, Prince Hall Affiliated of Pennsylvania, namely Hampton-Newport News # 13; Richmond #14; Norfolk #15; and Arlington #16, assembled at Dabney’s Restaurant, 1600 Robin Hood Road, Richmond, Virginia.  These councils organized and resolved to form a sovereign GRAND COUNCIL of ROYAL and SELECT MASTERS, Prince Hall Affiliated of Virginia and Jurisdiction.  Upon signing of the Resolution the four councils were renamed as follows: Norfolk #15 became James E. Fuller #2; Richmond #14 became Richmond #4; Hampton-Newport New #13 became Hampton-Newport News #3; and Arlington #16 became Matthew McGuffey #1.  (The original signed and sealed resolution is housed at the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia office, located at Thompson Street, Richmond, Virginia).  The elected and appointed Grand Officers were:

 

  • Right Grand Thrice Illustrious Master, P.T.I.M. William F. Milton #1

  • Grand Illustrious Deputy Master, P.T.I.M. Robert R. Ambrose #3

  • Grand Thrice Illustrious Principal Conductor of the Works, P.T.I.M. Mel A. Johnson

  • Grand Illustrious Treasurer, P.T.I.M. Julius Green JR

  • Grand Illustrious Recorder, Alfonso Anderson, #4

  • Grand Third Year Trustee, David L. Wilson #4

  • Grand Second Year Trustee, Wallace Greenlee #4

  • Grand First Year Trustee, Richard A. Woodhouse #2

  • Grand Illustrious Captain of the Guard, Samuel Avery JR #1

  • Grand Illustrious Conductor of the Council, Curtis S. Vaughan JR #3

  • Grand Illustrious Steward, Anthony Kerrin

  • Grand Illustrious Marshal, Aaron McAllister

  • Grand Illustrious Chaplain, Rev. Henry Wittle and Rev. Lowe

  • Grand Illustrious Sentinel, Ernest Hardy

  • Grand Illustrious Lecturer, Jerry Dysick

  • Grand Illustrious Assistant Recorder, Sherman N. Thomas JR

  • Grand Illustrious Assistant Treasurer, Benjamin Fletcher #1

  • Grand Illustrious C.C.F.C., P.T.I.M. Braxton W. Mitchell JR

P.T.I.M. Braxton W. Mitchell was given the title of Past Grand Thrice Illustrious Master with all rights and privileges as a sitting RGTIM.

 

On May 23, 1998, the constitution committee met at Mocha Temple #7, Richmond, Virginia, to write the first Constitution and General Laws of Royal & Select Masters of Virginia, PHA.  This committee consisted of:

 

  • Robert Ambrose #2, Chairman

  • Tommy E. Campbell JR #1

  • Richard Woodhouse #2

  • John Anderson #3

  • Mel A. Johnson #4

  • Sherman Thomas #3

 

On Saturday, June 12, 1998, the Prince Hall Grand Council of Pennsylvania held it 19th Annual Session at the Hilton Airport Hotel, Philadelphia, PA.  The four (4) Virginia Councils were officially recognized as warranted councils.  They were then set aside and recognized as councils comprising THE GRAND COUNCIL of ROYAL and SELECT MASTERS, Prince Hall Affiliated of Virginia and Jurisdiction, empowered to work and issue charters and dispensations.
 
On June 27, 1998, the Constitutional Committee met at Mocha Temple #7 in Richmond, Virginia to refine the Constitution.

In September 1998, the Cryptic Rite Body now known as the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Virginia was officially sanction and recognized in Virginia s recorded on pages 108 & 114, in the Proceeding of the 123rd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia.

 

In October 1998, the Cryptic Rite Body was officially sanctioned and recognized during the 125th Grand Convocation of King Cyrus Grand Chapter, Holy Royal Arch Masons and the 125th Grand Commandery Conclave of King Baldwin Grand Commandery of Knights Templar.

 

On December 12, 1998, a conference was “called” by R.G.T.I.M. William F. Milton #1, and held at the Masonic Temple, 25th and Leigh Streets, Richmond, Virginia.  The Constitution for this Body was adopted.  During the conference each council established its new name.  There were also 40 new Royal and Select Masters elevated.

 

During March 1999, the four councils again elected new Thrice Illustrious Masters.  They are Samuel Avery JR #1, Anthony Kerrin #2, John R. McDonald #3, and James A. Johnson #4.

 

On May 8, 1999, the Grand Council Session was held at the Masonic Temple at 25th and Leigh Streets, RichmRichmond, VA.  Charters bearing the new names of the four (4) councils were issued under authority of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Virginia, Prince Hall Affiliation and formally presented to each Council.  The first U. D. Council, Danville #1, was placed under dispensation.  Its new TIM is David L. Wilson.  The first travelling cards were issued.  Grand regalia (aprons) were presented to the top three officers as a gift from the Jurisdiction of New York.  The Virginia Grand Council became the newest member of the National Body, styled General Grand Conference of Grand Councils of Royal and Select Masters, Prince Hall Affiliation.  The Grand Council then elected its second group of Grand Officers as follows:

 

  • Right Grand Thrice Illustrious Master, Robert Ambrose #3

  • Grand Deputy Master, Mel A. Johnson #4

  • Grand Illustrious Principal Conductor of the Works, Curtis S. Vaughan #3

 

On July 24, 1999, the Grand Council held a cabinet meeting at the Petersburg Masonic Temple.  Companion Tommy E. Campbell provided a pictorial account of the above events.  During this meeting the following were appointed to write a history of this Grand Council’s beginning:

 

  • Wallace Greenlee #4, Chairman

  • Tommy E. Campbell JR #1

  • Earnest Hardy #2

  • Sherman Thomas #3

 

On February 7, 2000, the Prince Hall Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, Commonwealth of Virginia was officially incorporated.

On November 9, 2002, Right Grand Thrice Illustrious Master Samuel Avery JR and the Prince Hall Grand Council authorized and established the Prince Hall Grand Court of Ladies of the Circle of Perfection (LOCOP) as an auxiliary to this Body.  Its first principal officers were:

 

  • Mrs. Aliceteen Brickhouse & Royal Grand Perfect Matron

  • Mrs. Avis Bagby & Royal Grand Deputy Matron

  • Mrs. Rebecca Graves & Royal Grand Principal Conductress

  • Mrs. Mildred West State Coordinator for the LOCOP

 

Thus begins the initial history of the Prince Hall Grand Council Royal and Select Masters (PHA) and the Prince Hall Grand Court Ladies of the Circle of Perfection (LOCOP) in the Jurisdiction of Virginia. 

 

 

Yours in the Cryptic Rite,

 

PTIM Tommy E. Campbell JR #1
Member Historical Committee
Honorary Past Right Grand Thrice Illustrious Master
Past Assistant Grand Recorder
District Deputy Right Grand Thrice Illustrious Master

 

 

 

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