HISTORY OF MODERN FREE

 

The Modern Free Story, Modem Free and Accepted Masons of the World Inc. is a

Benevolent Patriotic Society established to promote friendship and brotherly love

among its members and to carry on Benevolent works for the relief of the needy and

helpless in our communities.

Our Masonic order was organized in November 1917, in Opelika, Alabama and initially

entitled the Free and Accepted Colored Masons of America. Between 1917 and 1921,

the founding father, brother Jerry Baxter Baldwin and other members, organized

seventeen lodges throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. The first Grand Lodge,

Lincoln lodge, was established in Phoenix City, Alabama in 1921 with Brother T. M.

Phillips as Grand Master. Lincoln Lodge is still active and vibrant.
 

The Free and Accepted Colored Masons of America, was incorporated as an

Independent Masonic Order on December 3, 1921 in Jefferson County Alabama. A dream

long held by Brother Jerry Baldwin was becoming a reality. His dream was to organize

a group of Black people who would dedicate themselves not only to understanding the

principle of Freemasonry but also to apply those principles to improve the social

conditions of their race. Brother Baldwin was intensely interested in everything that

pertained to the welfare and advancement of Black people. He helped build business

owned and operated by Blacks and loaned money to save homes and farms during the

great depression.

In 1924, Brother Baldwin, was elected the first Supreme Grand Master of the Free and

Accepted Colored Masons of America, and under his guidance the organization grew in

Unity and Membership.

By 1927, the Royal Palm Lodge #3-a was chartered in Columbus Georgia. The Past

Worshipful Master of this lodge was Brother T. McBride, who joined the Lodge in 1935.

In the 1930's the Free and Accepted Colored Masons of America struggled to survive.

Those were harsh times for all of America. The Stock Market Crashed in October of 1929,

and in the next three years the bottom dropped out of the economy. However, "We

should be proud of our fraternity", noted Brother N. A. Nall, Supreme Grand Deputy

Master in 1945, "for we survived when few institutions stood the test of those hard

times.

The Free and Accepted Colored Masons of America not only survived but grew. The first

Eastern Star Chapter Tennie Wilson #174 was organized on Opelika, Alabama in 1936.

Additional chapters were organized, including Smithfield Chapter #148, which became

by 1940 the largest chapter with over three hundred members. By 1949, the first Grand

Chapter, Silver Queen was established under the leadership or Sis. Dr. Esther Poole.

Sis. Poole became an Eastern Star at the age of eighteen and joined the Free and

Accepted Color Masons in 1940. Between 1940-1960 she dedicated herself to

organizing chapters and lodges and formed the first junior courts. She was committed to

improving the quality of life for all people. She was the "organizer" and a "driver' before

joining the Free and Accepted Colored Masons. In 1930 she formed the United Women

Workers of America. This group was known as "the better half" of the United Mine

Workers. Sis. Poole was an embalmer, hairdresser, pianist and a poetess. After many

years of outstanding performance as a Star, she became the first Supreme Grand Matron

of the Free and Accepted Colored Masons of America. She died in 1971.


Other Stars who joined the Free and Accepted Colored Masons in the 1940's include,

Sis. Fannie Rushings of Hoyts Pride Chapter #195, our Longest serving Worthy Matron

and Sis. Alma Patterson of Tennie Wilson Chapter #174. In February 1945, the Free and

Accepted Colored Masons of America authorized their four principle officers: J.B.

Baldwin, Supreme Grand Master, N. A. Nall, Supreme Grand Deputy Master, C.S.G. Boom,

Supreme Grand Junior 'warden, to amend the certificate of incorporation, changing the

organization's name to the Supreme Grand Lodge, Modern Free and Accepted Colored

Masons of the World. The word "Modern" reflects the members' belief that while the

ritualistic and symbolic aspects of Freemasonry are important, it is more important to

practice in daily life, the Eternal Truth and Universal Themes underlying the rituals and

symbols.

Ten years later; on April 4, 1955, the certificate of incorporation was amended. This

third amendment changed the name of our order to its' present one, Supreme Grand

Lodge, Modern Free and Accepted Masons of the World, Ancient and Accepted Scottish

Rite. As the name indicated this amendment established our affiliation with the Scottish

Rite. This affiliation was set up by the merger of Modern Free with the United Supreme

Council Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 33rd and Last Degree,

Southern and Western Jurisdiction, United States of America, Grand Orient of Washington

District of Columbia. The merger was executed by brother J. B. Baldwin, Supreme Grand

Master and Brother J. M. McMath Supreme Grand Treasurer of Modern Free, along with

James A. MacDonald the Sovereign Grand Commander of the United Supreme Council.

The United Supreme Council, first organized in 1895, and reorganized in 1918, had

jurisdiction for the United States, its territories and dependencies.

The consolidation with this organization empowered Modern Free to establish Scottish

Rite Consistories and to confer degrees from the fourth through the thirty-third and last

degree. The merger also meant that Modern Free was a part of those Masonic orders

linked to the First Council of the Ancient & and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

organized in Paris, France in 1758. The Illustrious Stephen Mourin, of Paris had been

commissioned and empowered to establish the Scottish Rite in the United States and

this degree was conferred upon David Leary, a prominent "colored Mason”, in

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1850.

Leary was granted, by the Supreme Council of France, a patent of power and authority

and directed to establish a Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite

among "colored Masons" in the United States. Two Supreme Councils were created; one

with its See at the Grand Orient of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the other with its See at

the Grand Orient of Washington in the District of Columbia. These were the only two

regular and legal Supreme Council of the thirty-third and last degree among "colored

Masons" in the United States, that is with the right and authority to confer the several

degrees and establish bodies of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

The new authorities and powers secured by the merger helped Modern Free strengthen

its effectiveness and increase its membership. Two additional Grand Lodges and

additional Grand Chapter were established in 1955 in Georgia; Joppa Temple, the Ill. W.

R. Waters, Grand Master, Luxor Grand lodge the Ill. Miles B. Austin, Grand Master, and

Electa Grand Chapter, Sis. C. B. Carter, Grand Matron.

The 1960's were the years of change for Modern Free. Growth in national membership

continued, the establishment of international lodges and Chapters began, and major

changes in Modern Free national leadership occurred. Membership increased when

Tennessee was organized in 1962, under the direction of the Ill. Edward Emory and two

Grand Chapters were established, Elizabeth Grand Chapter Mississippi, 1962, Sis. Willie

Barnes Grand Matron and Morning Star Grand Chapter Florida, 1967, Sis. Florence Jones

Grand Matron. Sis. Poole organized the first Junior Courts in 1968: Paal #68, Modernique

#67 and Emulators #68. These courts are no longer in service, but at one time Modern

Free had 50 Junior Courts in the United States and twelve in the Bahamas.

The government of Fraternal Order, underwent what was in 1967, a drastic change as the

first Eastern Stars were placed on the Supreme Grand Council. Sis. Pole and other

members had worked diligently to implement this change.

Other significant changes in Modern Free's National leadership occurred in 1967. The

Ill. Jerry Baldwin, who had served as Supreme Grand Master, left due to ill health. He

died March 23, 1978. In respect of his excellent leadership and service, Modern Free

created an expression of appreciation to the member who best exemplifies the spirit and

work of Brother Baldwin. The Modern Free Headquarters building in Columbus, Georgia

(Baldwin Hall) has also been dedicated in memory to the first Supreme Grand Master.

After Brother Baldwin's Resignation, the Ill. Frank Wooten was elected Supreme Grand

Master in June 1967. During his administration a major membership drive was launched

with focal points in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and the

Bahamas. Reaching the Bahamas, fulfilled part of Modern Free's objective to establish

members around the world. In 1969, the Mecca Grand Lodge was established in

Nassau, Bahamas with the late Brother L.L. Dean as Grand Master. In 1973 the Heroines

of Jordan Grand Chapter was organized with Sis. Annabel Dean, wife of Brother Dean,

who became Grand Matron.

Brother Frank Wooten resigned and the Ill. Arthur Ray assumed the office of Supreme

Grand Master for a short period. In the early 1970's Modern Free requirements for a

national leader who could guide the organization to higher levels of success, brought

the Ill. Henry H. Williams to the office of Supreme Grand Master. Brother Williams was

elected and installed in office in June 1971. Sis. Poole, the first Supreme Grand Matron

died in 1971, and in 1971 another very accomplished Star, Sis. Margaret Belcher,

became the Second Supreme Grand Matron.

Under the leadership of Brother Williams Modern Free focused on moving to a higher

plane of fraternalism, leadership and economics. Brother Williams who was a builder by

profession built more than structures of brick and mortar. He worked assiduously with

Modern Free members and leaders to build an organization that would 'Serve the

Present Age'.

In the 1970's our motto, "We Serve The Present Age", was fulfilled in the establishment of

five additional Grand Lodges and four additional Grand Chapters: Markham Grand

Lodge, Mississippi, 1971 Ill. Hosea Tyler, Grand Master. B'Natural Grand Lodge, South

Carolina, 1976, Rev. Levan Johnson, Grand Master. Progressive Grand Lodge, Illinois,

1977, Ill. Freddy B. Jones, Grand Master. Tombs of Solomon Grand Lodge, Florida,

1973, Rev. Thomas C. Jones, Grand Master. Cornerstone Grand Lodge, New York. Ruth

Grand Chapter, South Carolina, 1976 Sis. Ruth Boyd Grand Matron. Crown and Scepter

Grand Chapter, North Carolina, 1977 Sis. Josephine Davis, Grand Matron. Elizabeth

Grand Chapter, Illinois, 1977, Sis. Shirley Williams, Grand Matron. Esther Grand Chapter,

New York.

In the 1980's international expansion increased and between 1983 and 1985 two

Lodges and three Eastern Star Chapters were organized in Toronto and Ontario, Canada.

In addition to Canada, Modern Free international has extended to Germany, West and

North Africa, and as far East as Korea.

The current Supreme Grand Master Brother deWayne Richardson was elected June 24,

2011. The other elected officers are: Supreme Deputy Grand Master,
Sov/ILL

Anthony Carter, 33
; Supreme Grand Senior Warden, Sov/ILL  Anthony Allenn, 33;

Supreme Grand Junior Warden, Gr ILL. Rodney Craig 33, Supreme Grand Secretary,

ILL. Nelson Barrett; Supreme Grand Treasurer, Gr/ILL. Alphonse Martin, 33.

Our Mission Statement: 1) Modern Free Masons Inc. shall increase its members and

territories. 2) We shall set the order on a stronger economic base providing more

benefits for our membership and their offspring. 3) We shall expand the present

headquarters into a multi-complex including major convention facilities, meeting rooms

and other amenities for our youth and senior citizens. 4) Recognition and respect for

Modern Free Inc. by all Masonic bodies and our communities throughout the various

countries. 5) We shall establish major educational programs; provide training and

scholarships for our members generally.
 

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