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History
Frances E. Edwards Chapter #20

In The Beginning........... DEBORAH GRAND CHAPTER

 

HISTORY

FIRST EDITION

1909 - 1981


 

HISTORY OF DEBORAH GRAND CHAPTER

On November 8, 1909, five Chapters: Esther No. 1, Electa No. 2, Martha No. 3, Jeptha No. 4, and Palestine No. 5, met in Harrisburg, Pa., and organized a Grand Chapter. They elected Sister Hattie M. Grant, Worthy Grand Matron; Brother Phillip H. Edwards, Worthy Grand Patron; Sister Anna V. Green, Grand Treasurer, and Sister Frances E. Edwards, Grand Secretary.

This newly formed Grand Chapter held several sessions. However, there was a growing doubt that they had been properly set apart. On July 29, 1915, a Special Session was called in Harrisburg, Pa., to make the proper adjustments. Brother John P. Scott was the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania during this time.

After much discussion, and several subsequent meetings, on July 17, 1916, we were properly set apart with a "Warrant of Constitution" by Oziel Grand Chapter of New Jersey. Sister Prudence Penn, who had been elected Grand Worthy Matron in 1915, was reelected. Brother Phillip H. Edwards retained his station as Grand Worthy Patron.

The following Sisters and Brothers were elected: Sister Carrie Robinson, Grand Associate Matron; Brother Theodore Morrison, Grand Associate Patron; Mary White, Grand Treasurer; Hattie M. Grant, Grand Secretary; Martha Fields, Grand Conductress; Sister Saulsburry, Grand Associate Conductress. Appointed Grand Officers: Sallie Miller, Grand Adah; Elizabeth Smith, Grand Ruth; Fannie Newman, Grand Martha; Martha Cooper, Grand Electa; Rebecca Taylor, Grand Warder, and Brother Newman, Grand Sentinel.

July 24, 1916, found the Grand Matron and a selected group of her officers, making application to the Court of Common Pleas No.1, of the City and County of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for a Certificate of Incorporation. This certificate was granted in the September 1916 term of the Court.

Through the years, Deborah Grand Chapter has grown and improved with each Grand Matron and Grand Patron, making their mark for the good of the Order, adding Chapters and merging Chapters until today we have a little less than 5000 members in 78 Chapters throughout the Commonwealth.

Our Schools of Instruction were started during the administration of P.G.W.M. Mary L. Sedgewick by P.G.W.P. Edmund A. Scottie, 1946-1948, for the purpose of unifying the ritualistic work in the Jurisdiction. These Schools of Instruction were officially adopted by Deborah Grand Chapter during the administration of P.G.W.M. Cora Finch and P.G.W.P. John L. Burton, 1952-1954.

The Charity Fund Department was also proposed during the Sedgewick/Scotti administration and implemented by P.G.W.M. Mabel M. Keys and P.G.W.P. William Richardson, making those members in regular standing in their Chapters on October 1, 1948, Charter members of the Charity Fund.

The Girls Youth Department was organized by P.G.W.M. Fannie Lee under the Ruth M. Tucker/Ambrose J. Hopkins administration (1961). P.G.W.M. Tucker also started Deborah News, our official publication. P.M. Mildred Merriweather was appointed the Grand Editor at its inception.

The Education Department was begun under the administration of P.G.W.M. Elizabeth Cross and P.G.W.P. William N.W. Tribune in 1929. This department grew out of a young Eastern Star who brought her infant daughter to the 1929 Grand Session. Deborah Grand Chapter "adopted" the baby and saved $5.00 per year toward her education. The young woman was given the lump sum of $100.00 when she began her studies to become a beautician twenty years later. Sister Anna G. Grey was the first Grand Chairman of Education. The torch was passed to Mabel M. Keys, Mary C. Johnson, Naomi M. Hughes, P.M. #38, and to our present Grand Chairman, Grace A. Jones, P.M. #87. The torch still burns brightly. Scholarships are given annually to deserving youth and an annual contribution of $1000.00 is given to the United Negro College Fund. Sis. Grey used the expertise she gained as Chairman of Deborah Grand Chapter's Education Department to set up the Scholarship program in the General Conference of Grand Chapters; thereby bringing additional scholarships to many of Pennsylvania's youth.

Progress continued to be made over the years. Worth noting in our History was the effort of P.G.W.P. Charles A. Jones, who centralized the Grand Chapter Treasury. M. Susie Hill was his Grand Matron. Before their administration 1944-46, each Department or unit had their own secretary and treasurer and records were kept in the homes of the officers. P.G.W.P. Jones was also instrumental in helping to set up the Charity Fund, and he instituted the concept of One Grand Lecturer, with District Lecturers to unify the work. Prior to his term of office, there was a Grand Lecturer for the East and a Grand Lecturer for the West, with very little uniformity in the ritualistic work.

Deborah Grand Chapter has always wanted a "Home". P.G.W.M. Fannie E. Lee and P.G.W.P. A.P.T. Stevenson (1931-1934) proposed the collection of $.25 (25 cents) per member to purchase a property. This suggestion was accepted and the Home Fund Department came into function under P.G.W.M. Minetta Dobson and P.G.W.P. Clarence C. Kittrell (1934-1936). Several attempts were made to purchase a building but that was not to be. The fund now supports the expenses of the office at the "Grand East", 4301 N. Broad Street in Philadelphia.

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to Deborah Grand Chapter by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge; P.M.W.G.M. A. William Hill, Jr., presiding in 1961. This was graciously accepted by presiding Grand Matron Ruth M. Tucker. This brought closer and more official ties between the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter. With few exceptions peace and harmony have prevailed in our relationship with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge and its Most Worshipful Grand Masters.

Our newest Department, the Department of Aging was proposed during the administration of P.G.W.M. Sara D. Austin and P.G.W.P. Robert L. Smith (1973-75). This department was implemented and organized during the administration of P.G.W.M. Mozelle A. McKay and P.G.W.P. Walter A. Carter (1979-81). The first Grand Directress, P.G.W.M. Ruth M. Tucker; Grand Associate Directress, P.G.W.M. Sara D. Austin, and P.G.W.M. Ethel L. Calhoun. This department has made their mark with Area Directresses and District Chairmen doing imaginative and charitable work for the Senior Members of our Order. 

The McKay/Carter (1979-81) administration implemented the Bonding of Subordinate Chapter Officers by Deborah Grand Chapter, thus saving the chapters money paid paid to insurance companies through which they had been previously bonded. Quarterly returns were put into effect, making Deborah Grand Chapter's fiscal structure more responsive to its ongoing financial needs. A Procedure Manual was written and distributed throughout the jurisdiction, in order to unify the method of handling Eastern Star matters, wherever they might occur in the Commonwealth. The Past Grand Matrons and Past Grand Patrons Council became an official part of Deborah Grand Chapter. Though history will continue to be made, G.W.M. McKay appointed a Grand Historian and District Historians in order that we might get in touch with our beginnings, to take stock of where we are today, and head hopefully into a brighter and better tomorrow.

Our Standing Committees and Grand Chairmen strive to exemplify the tenets of the Order, while providing funds and favorable public exposure for the good work of our Grand Chapter and our Subordinate Chapters throughout the Jurisdiction.

1981 -1991

FIRST UPDATE

The Manus/Accooe  (1981-1983) administration

The Taswell/Patton (1983-1985) administration

The Williams/Satchell (1985-1987) administration

The Grimes/Collins (1987-1989) administration

 The Small/Collins (1989-1991) administration

Late 1989 Grand Worthy Matron, Maude I. H. Small had P.G.W.P. Walter A. Carter purchase a computer system for Deborah Grand Chapter and to chair a committee to develop the computer programs, and make this committee completely functional and responsive to the administrative and fiscal needs of Deborah. This is now a constitutional Committee.

DEBORAH GRAND CHAPTER RITUAL

On July 17, 1991, during the Seventy-Fifth Annual Session, our Diamond Anniversary, Bro. Ruben Collins, Grand Worthy Patron, recommended that Deborah Grand Chapter immediately write and implement its own complete Ritual. The rationale for this recommendation was to promote clarity and simplicity, achieve statewide uniformity, eliminate discrepancies, and to consolidate the several different books that were being utilized: Our Guide and Instruction Book, Rituals, Burial Books and the Procedure Manual.

Sister, Edna M. Rice Grand Conductress

Grand Historian 1991

In 1993, Deborah Grand Chapter’s Ritual became a reality, thanks to the tireless and outstanding efforts of many dedicated members, chaired by Bro. Walter A. Carter, #76, P.G.W.P. Bro. Carter was indeed, the driving force behind this great accomplishment.

On April 16, 1993, Deborah Grand Chapter Ritual was approved by the Jurisprudence Committee of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of PA and copyrighted by the Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., Richmond, Virginia.

LINE OFFICERS TRAINING

The Line Officers Training Department was developed and implemented to better enhance the preparation of our future leaders, thus enabling them to face their impending responsibilities with increase knowledge and confidence peculiar to our organization. In 1996, during her Annual Address, Sis. Pearlethia Lowery, G.W.M. stated, "Better leadership creates better programs, better programs encourages better membership, thus, we all benefit, and 'Deborah", as an effective and viable organization benefits most of all." It is imperative that we provide meaningful, effective and on-going training to our Subordinate and Grand Chapter Officers, to increase their proficiency to better execute their administrative functions, and meet the challenges of the future.

On July 16, 1996, G.W.M. Lowery recommended that the Line Officers Training become a permanent Department of the Order. Although this recommendation required a constitutional change, the recommendation was sustained.

Better qualified leadership is vital to the future, growth, and arid stability of any great organization. Deborah Grand Chapter, Order of Eastern Star is no exception.

To attest to the caliber of leadership, we have had in Deborah Grand Chapter, the following five Past Grand Worthy Patrons have served as Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge: Samuel A. Jennings, Clarence C. Kitrell, Walter C. Beckett, A. William Hill, Jr., and Stonewall J. Lett.

We hold membership in the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Chapters formerly known as the International Conference of Grand Chapters. Past Grand Worthy Matrons Minetta Dobson #36, Fannie E. Lee #32, and Anna G. Grey #18 served as International Grand Matrons. Grand Worthy Matron Maude Hamlin Small has the distinction of serving as Conference Chairman of the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Chapters encompassing the U. S., Canada, and Foreign Jurisdictions.

We acknowledge with grateful appreciation the First Edition of our History compiled during the administration of Past Grand Worthy Matron Mozelle A. McKay and Past Grand Worthy Patron Walter A. Carter.  From this edition we are able to reprint that which causes us to remember Our Past A Firm Foundation. We also acknowledge with grateful appreciation Historically Speaking compiled during the administration of Past Grand Worthy Matron Pattee J. Miller and Past Grand Worthy Patron Ervin W. Lewis.

Through the years, Deborah has successfully faced many challenges, changes, and complexities. We have made our mark, and withstood the test of time. "TO GOD BE THE GLORY."

Our rich heritage has indeed given us "A Firm Foundation." Each Past Grand Matron and Past Grand Patron has provided us with the leadership that has guided this Grand Chapter to the heights of success and achievements we are enjoying today.     

History of Frances E. Edwards Chapter #20 
 
Named after the wife of the first GWP of Deborah Grand Chapter, Brother "Phillip H. Edwards".

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Deborah Grand Chapter Order of Eastern Star PHA
Grand Worthy Matron Janice C. Harvey
Grand Worthy Patron Joseph Lee
Most Worshipful Grand Master Murphy J. Keller III
Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania