2023 Gate City Lodge No. 42 Worshipful Master David Parham
On December 30, 1887, a charter was granted to Tillman Lodge #19 under the hand and seal of the Most Worshipful Grand Master John D. Campbell, and PM William H. Tillman was the first Worshipful Master.
William H. Tillman was the second founding Pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church and was instrumental in having the church built on Wheat Street (now Auburn Ave). Because tradition would dictate that a Lodge cannot be named after a living person, two years after Tillman Lodge #19 was chartered; a petition was made for a new charter with a new name to the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia (held in the Masonic Hall, N. Broad St, Atlanta, Ga. July 1st thru July 4th 1889).
On July 13, 1889, a dispensation was granted and the name of the lodge was officially changed to Gate City Lodge #42 since the City of Atlanta was known as the “Gate City”. Atlanta was called “the Gateway city to the South” since 1857 because of the railroad connection from Memphis to Charleston.
Gate City Lodge #42 continued to meet and operate under the original charter issued to Tillman Lodge #19 until Past Master Lawrence Johnson in June of 1989 petitioned the Grand Lodge to receive the new Charter with the name of Gate City on it that was never received back in 1889. The request was made at the Grand Lodge communication in the city of Augusta.
Gate City Lodge #42 was the 3rd Masonic Lodge chartered in Atlanta for men of African-American descent and has taken its’ rightful place among the five original Atlanta lodges and today is one of the best in the South.
Moses Amos, Georgia’s first black pharmacist, proprietor of Gate City Drug Store.
In the modest, wooden building at 184 Auburn Avenue(New Odd Fellows Building), Georgia’s first black pharmacist, Moses Amos, operated Gate City Drug Store, where his staff of six tended to brisk business. He initially bought the business with his partners, Thomas Heathe Slater, and PGM H.R. Butler in 1914. Amos, a member of the Gate City Lodge No. 42 as well the National Negro Business League, was a prominent member of the black business and civic community.
HONORARY PAST GRAND MASTER RALPH KEMP, SR.
Past Master Ralph Kemp, Sr. was bestowed by Past Grand Master Bruce A. James the title and rank of Honorary Past Grand Master (“HPGM”) this was a historical event, and PGM James was the first Grand Master in Prince Hall Georgia jurisdiction to give such a high esteemed title to Past Master Ralph Kemp, Sr. HPGM Kemp, Sr. devoted his life to Masonry, and he attended 69 Grand Sessions straight and was the longest standing Grand Lodge Officer. HPGM Kemp, Sr. was the Grand Director of the Past Master Degree up until his passing. He served in many leadership positions from Illustrious Potentate of Nabar Temple No. 128 through heads of houses on the York Rite and Scottish Rite side, because of his dedication to the craft HPGM Ralph Kemp, Sr. has many organizations and scholarships name after him in his honor including our very own Ralph Kemp, Sr. Knight of Pythagoras Council No. 42.
Interview of HPGM Ralph Kemp, Sr. and PM Kemp (son):
Honorary Past Grand Master Ralph Kemp, Sr. as the Worshipful Master of Gate City Lodge No. 42. In the year 1978.
PM Raymond Solomon as WM of Gate City Lodge No. 42 in 1979.
Prince Hall, our founder, was one of our greatest Americans; a Worthy brother, and accredited with our first black Masonic Grand Lodge and its expansion.
His name is carried and borne by Masonic Organizations throughout the United States and thousands of Masons who regard themselves as descendants from the Grand Lodge of England from which he received his authority more than two centuries ago.
America celebrated in 1976 the two hundredth anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.
A significant event happened in Masonry on March 6, 1775. John Batt, working under the authority and the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, initiated Prince Hall and fourteen (14) other free black men into Masonry in Army Lodge No. 441.
The other candidates were Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley.
When the British Regiments left Boston on March 17, 1776, a dispensation was issued by Batt authorizing Prince Hall and his brethren to meet as a lodge under restrictions.
Under this permit, African Lodge No. 1 was formed on July 3, 1776. Official acknowledgment of the legitimacy of African Lodge No. 1 was almost immediately made by John Rowe of Boston, a Caucasian and provincial Grand Master of North America holding authority from the premier Grand Lodge of Freemasons, the Grand Lodge of England.
He, too, issued a permit authorizing African Lodge No. 1 to appear publicly in procession as a Masonic Body for the purpose of Celebrating the Feasts of Saints John and to bury its dead.
For nine years these brethren, with other free black men who had received their degrees in Europe, assembled together and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons, distressed that Prince Hall’s attempts to formally associate African Lodge with Caucasian Grand Lodges were frustrated by bigotry and racism. It was an ironic period in American history when colonists embraced the doctrine of independence, liberty, and equality to justify the revolt against English rule while promoting and condoning the economic and social exploitation of blacks debased by slavery.
Finally, in March 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England through Worshipful Master William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 55 (London, England) for a Warrant of Constitution. The Charter was prepared and issued on September 29, 1784, although it would be three years before African Lodge could actually receive it.
Moody sent a letter to Hall on March 10, 1787, stating the Charter was delivered to James Scott, Captain of the ship, Neptune, and brother-in-law of John Hancock. Hancock was a signer and President of the Continental Congress. The Charter, signed by Deputy Grand Master Roland Holt and witnessed by Grand Secretary William White, reconstituted African Lodge No. 1 as African Lodge No. 459 and thus began the parallel lines of black and caucasian Freemasonry which continue to exist in America.
Before 1815, exclusive territorial jurisdiction was not an active and recognized doctrine of English Masonic Custom. The African Lodge of Boston exercised its right to establish other lodges, making itself a Mother Lodge, its Master Prince Hall having the authority to issue warrants on the same basis as Masters of Lodges in Europe!
African Lodges were constituted in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New York. On June 24, 1791, the African Grand Lodge of North America was organized in Boston. This was one year before the organization of the United Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (Caucasian). In 1827, 45 years after the (Caucasian) Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had done so, African Lodge of Boston declared itself independent of the Grand Lodge of England.
Prince Hall died December 4, 1807. His successors were Nero Prince who sailed to Russia in the year 1808, George Middleton, Peter Lew, Samuel H. Moody, and the well-known John T. Hilton.
The original charter of African Lodge of Boston is in the possession of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and is the only known original 18th Century Charter in existence issued to any American Lodge by the Grand Lodge of England. It proudly represents the indisputable legitimacy and regularity of 45 Prince Hall Grand Lodges and their subordinate lodges and affiliated bodies.
The descendant Grand Lodge of African Grand Lodge changed their names to “Prince Hall Grand Lodge” with two exceptions. Today, throughout the world, there are 44 “Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges”, some 5000 subordinate Lodges, and more than 300,000 Prince Hall Masons.
Prince Hall Masons utilized their resources to provide young black men and women scholarships to college, to provide various forms of charity in their local communities, and to assist in many other programs in the black communities.
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