History of the MWPHGL of Arkansas
Freemasonry came to Arkansas in 1869 via Reverend Moses A. Dickinson, an AME Circuit Rider, also Grand Lecturer for the newly established Grand Lodge of Missouri. Arriving at Helena Crossing in Phillips County Arkansas, his first contact was Reverend William H. Grey, also an AME minister. Soon, Alexander Lodge was set up, with James Alexander the first Worshipful Master.
Later, Jeptha Lodge was set up in Little Rock, with Augustus Richmond the first Worshipful Master. In 1872, the National Compact Grand Lodge, operating in Kansas, set up Widow's Son Lodge in Fort Smith. In 1873, these three lodges met in Little Rock, Arkansas and formed the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge (Colored) of Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas, following the set procedures in that era. William H. Grey was elected the first Grand Master. Reverend Grey had an illustrious career, religiously, fraternally, civically and politically, serving as State Representative and many other political offices during the Reconstruction era. Alexander Lodge became Alexander #1, Jeptha Lodge became Richmond #2 and Widow's Son became Widow Son #3.
Lodges were set up in many areas of the state during the next few years under several Grand Masters, some of illustrious stature (see Who's Who). In 1885, the Grand Lodge of Kansas sent a committee down and the Order of Eastern Star was formed, with Past Grand Master John H. Johnson the first Grand Patron and his mother-in-law, Mariah Craigan, the first Grand Matron. In 1890, the Royal Arch was introduced in Arkansas, and a Grand Chapter was formed.
During the tenure of Grand Master Moses A. Clark, an ex-slave, the Masonic Temple was built, at that time (1909), the tallest building in Pine Bluff, (four stories). At the cornerstone laying service, in 1902, over 1,000 Masons were in attendance. The stone was donated by the Grand Chapter, Order of Eastern Star.
Prince Hall Freemasonry in Arkansas continues to uphold the principles as espoused by the founder, Prince Hall. Its members are found in all walks of life, doing those things that help to uplift the status of Black people around the state and the world. Freemasonry has been good to Black people, allowing them an outlet for their social and civic notions and actions.