Origin of Prince Hall Masonry in Alaska

Edited by P.G.M. Richard Watts, Sr.

In 1959, two clandestine lodges existed in the State of Alaska, Alpha Lodge No.16 and Anchor Lodge No.10 that could not trace their origin to the Grand Lodge of England. The Senior Warden of Alpha Lodge No.16 was an acquaintance MWGM Amos T. Hall, Grand Master of Oklahoma. SW Grice took the steps necessary to inform MWGM Hall that Alpha Lodge No.16 desired to become a member of the Prince Hall family.

Through SW Grice’s initiative, Alpha Lodge No.16 became the first Prince Hall Lodge in Alaska. Alpha Lodge No.16 was re-designated Alpha Lodge No.61 under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, October 1959. In the years 1960, 1963, 1964, three more Lodges received Prince Hall Charters. They were Unity Lodge No. 65, MidnightSunLodgeNo.67, and Summit Lodge No.68.This brought to fourth a number of Lodges Chartered under the Jurisdiction of Oklahoma.

Encouraged by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oklahoma’s success at establishing Subordinate Symbolic Lodges in Alaska, a movement began to secure Scottish Rite Bodies under the United Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction. MWGM Hall in cooperation with Sovereign Grand Commander George Crawford, made plans to institute the Scottish Rite as well as a Temple of the Mystic Shrine in Alaska. Sovereign Grand Commander Crawford appointed Deputy Booker T. Alexander, and active member of the Supreme Council as Special Deputy to undertake the details of the organization of a Consistory, Rose Croix, and a Lodge of Perfection in Alaska. An organizational meeting was held February17,1961 in Anchorage, Alaska. Sovereign Grand Commander Crawford authorized the formation of Northern Lights Consistory No.72, Cardinal Virtue Chapter of Rose Croix No.72, and Fidelity Lodge of Perfection No.72; all in Anchorage.

During May 1965, Alpha, Unity, and Midnight Sun Lodges sought Charters form the Grand Lodge of Washington. Their decision was not made haphazardly and only came about because of great expenses being incurred due to considerable distance between the states of Oklahoma and Alaska. Summit LodgeNo.68 remained under the Jurisdiction of Oklahoma.

With the addition of Arctic LodgeNo.56, there were five Lodges in the State of Alaska but only four were under the Washington Jurisdiction. With their Charters from Washington  Jurisdiction, Unity Lodge No.65 was reconstituted Mt. McKinley Lodge No.50, Midnight Sun Lodge No.67 became Midnight Sun Lodge No.51, and Alpha Lodge No.61 became Alpha Lodge No.52. In September1969, our mother Grand Lodge, The Grand Lodge of the State of Washington organized the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of Alaska. Most Worshipful Louis Solomon, Past Grand Master of Washington’s Prince Hall Jurisdiction, presided over the dedication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and the installation of its Grand Officers.

The Honorable Richard Watts, Sr. was installed as Grand Master. It was then that Alpha Lodge No.52 became Alpha Lodge No.1; Mt. McKinley Lodge No.50 became Mt. McKinleyNo.2; and Midnight Sun Lodge No.51 became Midnight Sun Lodge No.3; Arctic Lodge No.56 chose to remain under Jurisdiction of the State of Washington and Summit Lodge No.68 was still under the Jurisdiction of the State of Oklahoma. The Grand Lodge for the State of Alaska initially had three lodges under its Jurisdiction.

Grand Master Watts immediately began to facilitate the work that was necessary to bring all Prince Hall Lodges in the State of Alaska under the fold of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska and its Jurisdiction. Grand Master Watts began to realize the initial part of his task was accomplished when, in the year 1971, Castle Rock No.4 was established. Also, 1971 proved to be a very beautiful year as Pillar Mountain Lodge No.5 and Summit Lodge No.68 of Oklahoma came under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Alaska. Summit Lodge No.68 was re-designated Summit Lodge No.6 upon its admittance into the Alaska Masonic Family.

Grand Master Watts continued to formulate his plans for the expansion of Masonry in Alaska. In 1972, the “Brothers” in the Prince Hall Family, while realizing their strength did not come from within, sought out ways to establish a Grand Chapter in Alaska by contacting Oregon’s Grand Matron, Dorothy Vickers, to assist in forming a Grand Chapter in Alaska. Before their terms of office had expired the foundation for establishing a Grand Chapter in Alaska had been laid.

In was on June 10, 1972 the Grand Patron, Felix T. Hall and Grand Matron, Lenora Gaskins, organized the Grand Chapter for the State of Alaska. It was one of the many bright Auroras in the early history of Prince Hall Masonry in the State of Alaska.