PM Timothy McRae
Although blacks had been Prince Hall Freemasons in the United States since the establishment of African Lodge No. 459 in 1784 in Boston, Massachusetts, blacks in the District of Columbia did not have the opportunity to join the Craft until the chartering of Social Lodge No. 7 in 1825. In 1845 a second black Lodge, Universal Loge No. 10, was established in Alexandria, Va., and on April 4, 1846, Felix Lodge No. 17 was chartered by the Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
The initial officers, appointed by Samuel Van Brackel, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Pennsylvania, were Augustus B. Costin, Worshipful Master; John H. Massia, Senior Warden; and John H. Williams, Junior Warden. Other charter members included John T. Costin, Richard H. Phisk, Annanias Herbert, John C. Thomas, Leonidais Scott, Benjamin Newton, Abraham Powell, William Briscoe and Issac Fleetwood. Brother Newton served as Treasurer, Costin as Secretary, Powell as Senior Deacon, Scott as Junior Deacon, and Briscoe as Tiler.
Felix Lodge got its honored name from Brother Felix Dorsey, a Deputy Grand Master for the Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Brother Dorsey was instrumental in helping to get Masonry underway in the District of Columbia. Felix was “duly constituted” by Brother Daniel Smith and Brother William H. Bruce, both of Universal Lodge No. 10 of Alexandria, Virginia, who were deputized by the Pennsylvania Grand Loge to perform that solemn duty.
In 1848 Social Lodge No. 7, Universal Lodge no. 10 and Felix Lodge No. 17 came together in “convention” to form the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. The meeting took place in Fleet’s School on Herring Hill in west Washington. Brother John Costin of Felix, became the First Grand Secretary of this Jurisdiction.
Since 1849, Felix Lodge has produced ten Grand Masters: Augustus B. Costin, 1849; Richard H. Phisk, 1850; Charles Hunt, 1855; Annanias Herbert, 1856; William Tunnia, 1863; William H. Thomas, 1865; William H. Myers, 1874; George W. Brooks, 1878; Charles C. Johnson, 1882-1883; and David P. Crosby, 1965-1966.
Today, Felix Lodge has more than 125 dues-paying members who steadfastly embrace the tenants of friendship and brotherly love towards all mankind.