Our History

In 1868, the state of South Carolina was undergoing lots of changes. The Civil War had just ended which meant that the African American community was busy building. They were building their own churches, schools and businesses, as well as becoming politically engaged within the leadership structure of the state. It was during this time, that the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina was born.

One of the earliest known lodges in South Carolina started with a military lodge of African Americans during the Civil War. This lodge was said to be established by a group of African American soldiers attached to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment on Morris Island in Charleston, SC. This lodge eventually closed, but in 1866, we find Paul Drayton, the Most Worshipful Past National Grand Master (FAAYM) on a mission to establish what will become Union Lodge #1 in Charleston South Carolina. Additionally, in 1866, PGM Lewis Hayden helped establish Hayden Lodge # 8 under the auspices of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This is our foundation.

By 1868, lodges petitioned the National Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons to formally start what we will eventually know to become the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina (MWPHGLSC). By 1872 under the direction of Grand Master George E. Johnston, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted York Masons of the State of South Carolina established itself as a sovereign jurisdiction under its own sovereign authority.
The first officers of our Grand Lodge were:

  • MW Bro. George E Johnston, Grand Master
  • RW Bro Wiliam H. Berney, Deputy Grand Master
  • RW Bro Moses J. Simonds, Grand Senior Warden
  • RW Bro John W. Hall, Grand Junior Warden
  • RW Bro Thomas B. Maxwell, Grand Treasurer
  • RW Bro William Ingliss Jr., Grand Secretary

To Incorporate the Grand Lodge of Free and Ancient York Masons of the State of South Carolina and the subordinate lodges under it’s jurisdiction. Grand Master George E. Johnson filed Articles of Incorporation with South Carolina Secretary of State F. L. Cardozo.

The first ten original lodges composed under this formation were as follows:

Union Lodge No. 1 (Charleston, SC)
Hayden Lodge No. 2 (Charleston, SC)
Consolation Lodge No. 3 (Georgetown, SC)
Drayton Lodge  No. 4 (Charleston, SC)
Shekinah Lodge No. 5 (Charleston, SC)
Lebanon Lodge No. 6 (Columbia, SC)
Eureka Lodge No. 7 (Walterboro, SC)
St Paul Lodge No. 8 (Sumter, SC)
Meridian Lodge No. 9 (, SC)
Lily Work No. 10 (Charleston, SC)
Corinthian No. 11 (Charleston, SC)
Ionic No. 12 (Abbeville SC)
Hiram No. 13 ( Florence, SC)
Doric No. 14 ( Charleston, SC)
Oro No. 15 (Oro, SC)
Landmark No. 16 (Bennettsville, SC)
Friendship No. 17 (Darlington, SC)
Mt. Moriah No. 18 (Marion, SC)
Euclid No. 19 (Dillon, SC)
Silver Trowel No. 20 (Spartanburg)

Our second Grand Master, GM Robert B. Elliot went on to become a member of Congress during the Reconstruction Era in American politics as well as South Carolina’s first African American Attorney General. The Grand Lodge would continue to grow and expand across the state and had many great accomplishments that followed.

During the turn of the century, under the leadership of Grand Master Dr. CC Johnson, South Carolina masons would thrive.