MOSES DICKSON
GRAND MASTER of MASONS of MISSOURI, PHA

These are just a few of the pieces of the story of a Past Master that only has a one-line entry in the History of my Lodge.

These are just a few of the pieces of the story of a Past Grand Master that only has his name entered four times in the History of my Grand Lodge.

Doing this paper has given new meaning to the saying, "In search of that which was lost". How many more "Lost Stories" are there in the History of Masonry that has just been lost over time? How many more of these stories will I come up with just going through the names in the History of my own Lodge? Is there an "Untold Story" waiting to be found in your Lodge?

WHO WAS FATHER DICKSON?


Born free in Ohio on April 5, 1824, Moses Dickson traveled throughout the pre-war South as an itinerant barber. Despite the unspeakable hardships of slavery, he saw within the Black community a wealth of talent, courage and strength. He later became a minister and dedicated his life to social activism on behalf of freed slaves.

In recognition of his many contributions (including the relocation of 16,000 freed slaves, and co-founding what is now Lincoln University), the cemetery was dedicated and named for Father Dickson. It stands as a tribute to his belief that..........as individuals and as a people, we can make a difference.

EDUCATION

He was one of the founders of Lincoln Institute, which is now Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. Later Lincoln University experienced many of the same problems the Colored School endured. In fact, the first enrollees at the Institute, only 2, attended school in the same shanty on Hobo Hill the black school students attended.

The school was in financial trouble throughout the Reconstruction period. It was necessary on many occasions for such men as John Lane, Moses Dickson and J. Milton Turner to act as agents on behalf of the Institute for the purpose of soliciting contributions. The primary supporters of the school in those years were the Freedman's Bureau, the Western Sanitary Commission, various churches and individuals, both Negroes and liberal whites.

THE COMMUNITY

Dickson's efforts aided the Underground Railroad until the Civil War began, when they enlisted in the Union Army. Dickson later became an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church preached at several churches in the St. Louis area.

In January of 1865, a state provision banned slavery and required that all school boards support education for African-Americans. When the academic year started, St. Louis had five schools with 1,600 black students. Local African Americans, such as James Milton Turner, Moses Dickson, John Wheeler, and John Turner led the creation of the Committee of Twenty-Five in 1879, which was organized to help provide temporary housing for the 10,000 or so travelers that came through St. Louis. In the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis, runner George Pogue became the first black man to compete in the games.

He served as president of the Refugee Relief Board in St. Louis, which helped to feed, shelter relocated 16,000 former slaves who were immigrating to Kansas.

The Committee split in mid-April: the Colored Refugee Relief Board worked on finding housing and transportation, while the Colored Immigration Aid Society raised money to form new black colonies in the west. Most Exodusters moved to the plains of western Kansas, eastern Colorado, and southern Utah; others stopped in St. Louis. The city's black population increased by 1880 to 6.36 percent of the total, many of whom were migrants.

PRINCE HALL MASONRY

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri, F.&A. M. Moses Dickson was the sixth Worshipful Master of Prince Hall Lodge #1 and he served two years, 1863 and 1864. He was the first Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge when it was organized on February 8, 1865. He went on to become the 2nd Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Missouri in 1869 and was elected to that position again in 1877. The records also show him as the Grand Secretary in 1869 which was the same year he was Grand Master.

Fraternal organizations provided one response to the flow of new black arrivals and the racism they encountered. Like their counterparts for whites, these groups combined aspects of social clubs and benevolent societies. Prince Hall No. 10 (named for the first black Mason, Prince Hall, who joined in Boston in 1775) was the first to open in St. Louis, followed by Lone Star No. 22 three years later and H. McGee Alexander No. 8 in 1860. At the end of the Civil War, the lodges successfully petitioned their parent organization, the Ohio Grand Lodge, to create their own Grand Lodge of Missouri.

By 1909 there were nine black Freemasons Chapters in the city, and the Negro Masonic Hall Association raised enough money to purchase its own building. The groups moved from their rented quarters to Easton Avenue (now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard). Members of these Lodges included some of the most prominent members of the local African-American community. The Masons helped black immigrants find jobs and places to live, offered needed relief, contributed to charities, backed education, and promoted the Horatio Alger-style values of honesty and good work. Companion Moses Dickson was elected Deputy Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons of Missouri and Jurisdiction in 1876, however he never served as an actual Grand High Priest, because he became Grand Master for the State of Missouri, and he was made an Honorary Past Grand High Priest.

The Ritual Heroines of Jericho was written and entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1895, by Moses Dickson in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, DC. It was printed and sold by The Moses Dickson Regalia and Supply Co., Kansas City, Missouri. It contains the "Master Mason's Daughter", "True Kinsman", and "Heroines of Jericho" degrees. It is a small book of seventy-two pages. Which makes it the oldest Ritual written by a Prince Hall Mason I have been able to find to date.

Who were the secret Knights of Liberty?

The Knights of Liberty was a secret African American organization, reportedly organized by twelve black men meeting privately in St. Louis, Missouri in August 1846. They were also known as the Knights of Tabor or the International Order of Twelve. Their goal was nothing less than the destruction of slavery. Their plans are unverified, but it is likely they were planning to undertake some kind of military action. The Knights took the name Tabor from the Bible. Tabor is a mountain in northern Israel where an army of God's people, the Israelites, won a decisive victory over their enemies, the Canaanites.

The Knights claimed a peak membership of nearly 50,000, and they estimated that over ten years they helped some 70,000 slaves escape from slavery over the clandestine Underground Railroad.

Apparently the Knights abandoned their plans in 1856 because they believed that tensions between the free North and the slave South were leading to a national civil war that would bring slavery to an end. Following the Civil War, the leaders founded a benevolent fraternal society called the International Order of the Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor.

Moses Dickson was also the author of "International 777 Order of Twelve 333 of Knights and Daughters of Tabor. This book was entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1894, by Moses Dickson in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, DC. This book contains the Constitution and Rules and Regulations of Subordinate Temples of the Uniform Rank of Tabor and Taborian Division.

Moses Dickson was the power behind the Knights and may have been its actual founder. Born free in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1824, he saw at first hand the horrors of the slave system when he worked on a steamboat that traveled south. He was a soldier in the Civil War and devoted himself afterwards to racial causes. He became an active Republican and a member of the Equal Rights League, organizations committed to the freed people. He also became an AME minister, a founder of Lincoln University in Missouri, and president of the Refugee Relief Board in St. Louis, which aided African Americans on their way seeking greater freedom in Kansas and the West. Although little is known about the Knights when they were a secret society, their very existence shows the involvement of African Americans themselves in the struggle for black freedom.

If the War of the Rebellion had not occurred just at the time that it did, the Knights of Liberty would have made public history.

MILITARY

In 1857 Dickson realized that the Civil War was inevitable, so he changed the focus of the Knights from insurrection to the Underground Railroad. St. Louis was Moses Dickson's headquarters and became a major way station of the Underground Railroad. During the war, when Lincoln decided to allow Blacks to enlist in the Union Army, Moses Dickson was ready with 47,000 men. These Knights of Liberty were already well drilled and completely devoted to the cause of freedom. They pledged themselves to win or die in the attempt. A fraternal organization known as the International Order of Twelve, Knights of Tabor is the successor to the Knights of Liberty. Its purpose is to continue the fight for equality.

Father Dickson Cemetery
845 S. Sappington Road

As one of the first public cemeteries available to Black people in the St. Louis area, Father Dickson Cemetery was the site of 6,000 burials before it closed in the 1970's. Without a perpetual care endowment, the cemetery fell victim to abuse and neglect. Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery organized in 1988 to repair, restore and preserve the Historic site. Their vision was to reclaim the natural beauty of this local landmark, and prevent the loss of its Historic value to commercial development. Father Dickson Cemetery, named for nineteenth-century minister Moses Dickson, is now on Sappington Road. Buried there are the first American Ambassador to Liberia James Milton Turner and founder of Lincoln University, John Vashon, renowned attorney, linguist and teacher for whom Vashon High School in St. Louis City is named after, Henry Lewis, popularly know as "Steamboat", an entrepreneur and personal barber to Augustus Busch, Sr., and Madame C. J. Walker.

Besides their notable achievements, these Missourians have something else in common:
All were former slaves or descendants of slaves. They also are buried in a cemetery in southwest St. Louis County named for Father Moses Dickson.

Moses Dickson died on Nov. 28, 1901.

FRIENDS OF FATHER DICKSON CEMETERY
Ernest Jordan, President
(314) 822-8221
email: ejmadison@worldnet.att.net

Karen Mozee, Vice-President
(314) 822-8221

Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery
P.O. Box 220612
Kirkwood, MO 63122

BY:
Byron E. Hams, PM
Prince Hall Lodge #1
MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri and Jurisdiction

References:

The African American Registry

OFFICIAL MANUAL State of Missouri, 1973-1974

The Role of the Negro in Missouri History

Slavery in St. Louis, By Scott K. Williams, Florissant, Mo.

Soul of America

Amazing Africana Black History Facts

Neighbors and Neighborhoods of North St. Louis

Ritual Heroines of Jericho

Proceeding of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri, PHA.

History of Prince Hall Lodge #1

International 777 Order of Twelve 333 of Knights and Daughters of Tabor

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