The establishment of Queen Esther Chapter No. 1. The first chapter of the Adoptive Rite among ladies of color. The first Worthy Matron was Sister Martha Welch and the first Worthy Patron was Brother Thornton A. Jackson.
The basis of this historic achievement follows the lines laid down in print by Prince Hall, the founder of the first organized body of Black Free and Accepted Masons in America, and the rejection he and his colleagues met in obtaining a charter for African Lodge No. 459 in Boston, Massachusetts.
These pages in the history of the Adoptive Rite Among Black Women also focuses on the dreams of Grand Master William H. Myers, Union Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia and Mrs. Georgiana Thomas. In 1874, Grand Master Myers found himself wrestling with the sign posts of the time. There were many who were opposed to any decisions to grant permission for the establishment of the Adoptive Rite for Black Women in the District of Columbia. He finally granted permission for Sir Thornton A. Jackson 33° and his colleagues to establish the first Chapter of Adoptive Rite, Order of the Eastern Star Among Black Women in United States. During this same time frame, Mrs. Georgiana Thomas, a lady of color, nurtured her dream and brainchild of Queen Esther Chapter becoming a reality. All of these dreamers had one thing in common. Each had to struggle with the “Cross Winds of Change.”
August 10, 1874, Sir Thorton Andrew Jackson 33° received the several degrees of the Rite of Adoption of the Order of the Eastern Star from Brother C. B. Case, a Deputy and agent of Illustrious Robert Macoy 33°, Supreme Patron of the Rite of Adoption of the World. In addition Sir Thornton A. Jackson 33° also received a letter from Brother C. B. Case granting him the authority to establish chapters of the Order of Eastern Star among eligible Black women. In Audience to the authority granted by Grand Master William H. Myers, Union Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, Sir Thornton Andrew Jackson 33° established the first Eastern Star Chapter among Black Women in the United Sates.
On Wednesday, December 1, 1874, Mrs. Georgiana Henson Thomas opened the doors of her home at 708 0 Street, N.W., Washington D.C. and witnessed the establishment of Queen Esther Chapter No. 1. The first chapter of the Adoptive Rite among ladies of color. The first Worthy Matron was Sister Martha Welch and the first Worthy Patron was Brother Thornton A. Jackson.
In the avalanches of remembrances are many great women whose names appear on the scrolls of time, leaving legacies for future generation to emulate. In the exercise of high authority, they were guided by the purist principals of justice and moderation. Such was the commitment of Georgiana Henson Thomas. Like Harriet Tubman, The Moses of the Underground Railroad; Georgiana worked with the underground railroad at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church located at 15th and M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. She was one of the sixty-three (63) founders of the Plymouth Congregational Church where she served as a Deaconess until her death. She served as the first Grand Royal Matron of the Grand Chapter of the District of Columbia from 1892-1894. Georgiana Henson Thomas also served as the Grand Representative near the Grand East of Illinois in 1904. She passed in July 1941 at the age of ninety-nine.
The Adoptive Rite, Order of the Eastern Star has experienced phenomenal growth since its inception on Wednesday, December 1, 1874. Today there are forty-four (44) Grand Chapters dispersed throughout the United States, Canada, Liberia, and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the recently formed Grand Chapter of the Caribbean. All of these Grand Chapters are basking under the umbrella of the Grand Lodge in whose jurisdiction they were organized. History has recorded and indicates there now exist three thousand five hundred ninety-three (3,593) subordinates chapters and approximately one hundred eighty thousand seven hundred and nine (180,709) in membership all within the frame work of these Grand Chapters. The first Grand, Chapter of the Adoptive Rite was organized in 1880 at Washington, North Carolina.
The first Grand Matron was Sister Julia Foy and the first Grand Patron was Bishop J.W. Hood. This Grand Chapter was followed closely by a Grand Chapter organized in Tennessee. Another great event evolved in Boston, Massachusetts one hundred twenty-five (125) years after the founding of African Lodge No. 459 by Prince Hall. How ironic it was that the Conference of Grand Chapters, Order of the Eastern Star was perfected on September 11-12, 1907. in the same state There seemed to have been a spirit or aura beaming from the attendees as they assembled an mingled at the first conference. The following Grand Chapters were represented: Arkansas California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New England, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. The following officers were elected: Kittie Terrell, Illinois, Supreme Grand Royal Matron; Walden Brooks, New England, Supreme Grand Royal Patron; Viola Hart, Georgia. Supreme Associate Matron and Addie Duffie, Maryland, Supreme Grand Treasurer.
The conference was severally style First it was the Supreme United Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. In 1910, the name was changed to the Interstate Conference of Grand Chapters. In 1924, the name was changed’ the International Conference of Grand Chapters. The International Conference of Grand Chapters was officially dismantled by the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters in Colorado Springs, Colorado in May, 1976. The conference is now known as the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Chapters, Order of the Eastern Star.
The current presiding officers are Grand Worthy Matron Valda A. Lewis, Jurisdiction of Indiana, Conference Chairman; Grand Worthy Patron Odis Ward, Jurisdiction of Nevada, Conference Co-Chairman. All fronts of the Order of Eastern Star are continuing to help humanity through their scholarships, giving to many charitable causes and other humanitarian acts which demonstrate caring and sharing. The order continues to move forward with a great faith, yet remembering that faith without deeds is naught.