Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Gr Grandparents, Part 2

My grandmother had several items in a box which were passed on to me after she died. One of the items was a letter in it's original envelope addressed to her father Daniel.

It's from the secretary of the Prince Hall Masonic Temple dated: June 12, 1916
Here is the letter:

This letter is 97 years old. I still have it in the original box that my grandmother put it in.

Also found in the box was this it belonged to my 2nd great grandmother Minnie, Daniel's wife:

With the help of some cousins in one of my Facebook groups and friends we were able to determine what this is.  

It's from the "Knights of the Wise Men", an organization for black men formed 1879 in Nashville, TN.  It was a fraternal insurance and burial type benefit.  The largest order was in Chattanooga, TN.  A smallpox epidemic pretty much wiped out the organization because of benefit pay outs.  Then the Secretary/Treasurer left with the remaining money in 1891 never to be seen again.
Singer/Songwriter Lionel Ritchie's great grandfather , J. Lewis Brown was the founder of this organization.

So it appears that Minnie Edingburg was also active in the Temple, which was interesting to find out. I read that the organization was only mentioned up until about 1915 after that it was closed down.


  1. Fascinating story, I am enjoying learning about your family and Chattanooga as well. Keep the posts coming.

  2. Wow! very interesting story. I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your family. :)

  3. I read the history of this group some three years ago. Never thought I would know and be related to someone who was involved in its early history. Wow!

    1. Thank you cousin, I've totally enjoyed writing about the family and learning about them.

  4. I read the history of this organization about three years ago...never would have thought I would have a cousin who's immediate relatives were so involved in the running of the organization. I so enjoyed reading this story.