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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by Lisa Brantley Kobrin and Monica Moody, 2006

See also Black Freemasonry

Postcard of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home, Greensboro, N.C., circa 1915.The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, known as Freemasons or Masons, is a secret fraternal society that has members in all parts of the world. The organization stresses the members' duty to their families, their country, and their fellow men and women, as well as the importance of religious belief. Each Freemason also pledges his allegiance to fellow members. The history of Freemasonry in the British colonies of North America can be traced back to a very early period, and prior to 1735 the group was actively at work in North Carolina. By 1735 enough Masons had assembled in the Cape Fear settlement to form a lodge. Saint John's Lodge of Wilmington, chartered in 1755, is the oldest Masonic lodge in continuous use in North Carolina. Several lodges existed prior to the Revolutionary War throughout North Carolina. Royal White Hart Lodge No. 2. in the town of Halifax was chartered on 21 Aug. 1767 and is also still in existence.

The Grand Masonic Lodge of North Carolina was organized in 1787. For many years the qualifications of the lodge's leader, or Grand Master, were that he should have played a prominent role in the Revolutionary War. The first master of this lodge was Samuel Johnston, a governor of North Carolina. The Grand Masonic Lodge was responsible for building a new Masonic Temple in Raleigh about 1909.

North Carolina Masons continue to meet at lodges in Salisbury, Asheboro, Charlotte, Asheville, Newton, Dunn, Garner, and dozens of other cities in the state. Their work remains charitable in nature, supporting several service projects and facilities, giving scholarships, and helping in times of emergency with disaster relief. The Masonic Home for Children in Oxford and the Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Greensboro are two important Masonic facilities in the state.

Additional Resources:

"St. John's Lodge." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed June 19, 2012).

"Masonic Lodge." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed June 19, 2012).

"Masonic Home." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed June 19, 2012).

"Oxford Orphanage" North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed June 19, 2012).

Haywood, Marshall De Lancey. The Beginnings of Freemasonry in North Carolina and Tennessee. Raleigh, N.C.:Weaver & Lynch. 1906.

Andrews, Alexander B., Jr., compiler. A Digest of the Masonic law of North Carolina, 1841 to 1906. Oxford, N.C.: Oxford Orphan Asylum. 1907.

"North Carolina Masons Will Join the Sesqui-Centennial Celebration Of The Establishment Of St. John's Lodge." The News and Observer [Raleigh, N.C.]. January 15, 1922.

Gooding, N.G. "Century and Half of Masonic History Is Recorded In Life of St. Johns No. 3." The News and Observer [Raleigh, N.C.]. January 15, 1922.

Image Credits:

"Masonic and Eastern Star Home, Greensboro, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.,1344.