February 12, 2016 – Dave Gillarm Jr., Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia, consistently engages in a social media debate with the Historian of the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge F&AAYM concerning the establishment of the first Grand Lodge of African American Freemasons in the state of Georgia. Most of the debates tend to be relegated to insults which have had him removed from one of the most popular Social Media debate groups (over 2000 members). The primary issue of the vitriol is concerning the establishment of the first Grand Lodge amongst men of color in the state of Georgia and whether the Grand Lodge was established as a subordinate of the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Ancient York Masons (Prince Hall Origin – National Compact). Grand Historian Gillarm claims that the first Grand Lodge amongst men of Color was established June 1870. The Historian of the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge claims the Grand Lodge was established two months later. We will look at this Grand Lodge establishment and question the need for Grand Historian Gillarm to revise this history. We will also look at others whose date of establishment matches the Historian of the National Grand Lodge. It should be noted that all positions are respected, be it right or wrong, however, it should be accountable that one would present information from the literature of the subject that supports their claim.
Dave Gillarm “revises” his Predecessors
Grand Historian Gillarm’s position that the date of the first Grand Lodge of men of color in Georgia is in stark contrast to what was published by the Grand Historians who preceded him. His most recent predecessors were; Doug Evans III (Atlanta) and Joe Snow (Savannah). Dave Gillarm claims the first Grand Lodge amongst men of color in Georgia was established in JUNE 1870. The following two predecessors have published accounts which claim August 22, 1870. Past Grand Historian Doug Evans III writes:
“ On August 22, 1870 Rev. James Simms helps to organize the Grand Lodge of Georgia (for Blacks) with Eureka #1, Hilton #2, and Bannekar #3.
The above quote is published on the website of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia to which Dave Gillarm is the Grand Historian. The publication is 7+ years old. With regards to credibility to the office of Grand Historian, one would presume that if Dave Gillarm has information to the contrary to the Past Grand Historian, that information would be published as a correction. Grand Historian Joe Snow, the predecessor to Doug Evans III, is a writer of esteem note. As a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society, Joe Snow work should have its mark on the Georgia Grand Historians who followed him. The following is what he wrote as to the establishment date of the first Grand Lodge of men of color in Georgia.
“When the three Lodges in Georgia were called together by then DDGM James M. Simms on Aug 22, 1870 for the purpose of establishing a Grand Lodge in the State of Georgia. R. H. Gleaves M.W. National Grand Master was present to install the elected and appointed officers.”
The two published positions by Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia Historians should have been a road map enough for the new Grand Historian but he holds fast to the June 1870 date of establishment.
Several published authors of the 20th century have wrote on the establishment of the first Grand Lodge of men of color in Georgia. In review of that literature, none of which endorses the June 1870 date of Grand Historian Dave Gillarm Jr. Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of Georgia (now styled the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia) stated the following.
“August 22, 1870, these three Lodges as I have said, through their regularly elected delegates met and formed a Most Worshipful Grand Lodge in the regular way.”
Noted Prince Hall Author Harry Williamson wrote the following:
“These three Lodges met in the city of Savannah on August 22, 1870, and organized the first Grand Lodge in that territory with Eureka No. 1, Hilton No. 2 and Banneker No. 3 as the official register of Lodges.”
The above position is echoed in the famous “Prince Hall Quiz Book”, authored by the late Great Joseph Walkes. The above citations along with those published accounts of the two prior Prince Hall Grand Historians of Georgia contrast the current Prince Hall Grand Historian’s position. Though Dave Gilarm’s social media posts, he has not addressed that from the literature on the subject.
- What is the logic behind retreating from the published accounts of past authors and historians?
- What has Dave Gillarm entered into the literature to support his position?
- Are the revisions part of writing the Most Worshipful National Grand Lodge out of the history of the first Grand Lodge of men of color in the state of Georiga?
- Will Dave Gillarm address questions regarding this issue with dignity and respect for the office to which he was appointed?
- Does Dave Gillarm disagree with his previous Past Grand Historians as well as Past Grand Master Henry Rutherford Butler?
It would add greatly to the discussion on this subject is the PHA Grand Historian of the great state of Georgia would have the COURAGE to discuss and debate his position and not have the pretence of hiding behind the title which is one of pride and honor. Time will tell.
 Evans III, D., “Black Freemasonry in the Peach State of Georgia: 140 years from Slavery to Sublime and from Projects to Pyramids” August 2009 (http://www.mwphglga.org/annualevents/history.pdf).
 Snow, J. “A MASTERPIECE: The National Grand Lodge or Compact Connection to Freemasonry in the State of Georgia”, 2001 Phylaxis Magazine Vol. XXVI.
 Butler, H., “The History of Masonry Among Colored Men in Georgia”
 Williamson, H. “Freemasonry in Georgia” The New York Age (New York, NY) March 10, 1934
 According to the handwritten proceedings of August 22, 1870, National Grand Master Richard Howell Gleaves, installed the officers of the first Grand Lodge of men of color in Georgia and presented the Warrant of Constitution and Errection to the Grand Lodge.