Grand Chapter of Michigan History
The Grand Chapter, or at least Chapters, of Royal Arch Masons have been in Michigan been an influential part of the Masonic Tradition in Michigan since April 20, 1818 when Monroe Chapter No. 1, held it first meeting at the Masonic Hall (Benjamin Woodworth's Hotel) in Detroit, and receiving its Charter on Feb 17, 1821.
Monroe Chapter was instrumental in St. Joseph Valley No. 2 in Niles receiving a dispensation to work. It forwarded the recommendation for a dispensation, along with $110.00, to the General Grand Chapter on April 16th 1844. The dispensation was granted on May 16th of that year. Their work being satisfactory, the General Grand Chapter in September 1844 granted the charter which was made out and dated October 16th, 1844.
Jackson Chapter No. 3 located in Jackson received authority of a warrant to work from the General Grand Chapter and held its first meeting in the Odd Fellows' Hall on the thirty-first day of March 1847. At a regular convocation held on the 2nd day of December 1847, they adopted a resolution, previously approved by Monroe Chapter, declaring that in the opinion of the members of this Chapter, it was expedient and proper to form a Grand Chapter for the State of Michigan. The organization of the Grand Chapter took place in Jackson on the 9th Day of March 1848.
The first elected Officers of the Grand Chapter were: E. Smith Lee, Monroe, Grand High Priest; Czar Jones, Jackson, Dep. Grand High Priest; Nathaniel Pullamn, St. Joseph Valley, Grand King; John Mullet, Monroe, Grand Scribe; Willaim Lister, Monroe, Grand Secretary; N.B. Carpenter, Monroe, Grand Treasurer and Jeremiah Moors, Monroe, Grand Marshall. (**The Grand Chapter does not have or elect a Deputy Grand High Priest or a Grand Marshal or it does however, have the following elected Officers not originally elected: Grand Captain of the Host, Grand Principal Sojourner, Grand Royal Arch Captain, Three Grand Masters' of the Veils and a Grand Sentinel.)
E. Smith Lee the 1st Grand High Priest was born in Connecticut and graduated from Union College in New York and was then admitted to the bar. After moving to Michigan he was a Judge of Wayne County. E. Smith Lee was made a Mason shortly after reaching the age of majority. He was a Past Master of Detroit Lodge No. 2; Past High Priest of Monroe Chapter No. 1; and the 1st Eminent Commander of Detroit Commandery No. 1. In 1843 he was made the Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Michigan and was chosen as the first Grand Secretary of th Grand Lodge in 1844, serving for 2 years. In 1846 he was elected Grand Visitor and Lecturer and in 1847 he was chosen Grand Master, serving 2 years. After being elected as the 1st Grand High Priest in 1848 he continued to serve for 3 years after which he served as the Grand Lecturer for another 3 years.
The original Constitution of the Grand Chapter had some interesting aspects that are not commonly known:
1. There shall not be a Grand Chapter opened for business, unless there shall be present a representation from at least two subordinate working Chapters. **(It now requires a majority of the subordinate chapters)
2.. This Grand Chapter, being the highest source of legitimate Masonic authority...within the State of Michigan. **( currently reads similarly with the following addition - "in Capitular Masonry in this jurisdiction, subject to the ancient landmarks, this constitution and the constitution and edicts of the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons.")
3. This Grand Chapter has the authority, and may authorize and empower any Royal Arch Chapter under this jurisdiction, to organize with its body, a Council of Royal and Select Masters... The Grand High Priest, and Deputy Grand High Priest, may ...authorize the establishment of Councils of Royal and Select Masters. **(Councils in Michigan now come under the direction and leadership of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masons of Michigan which is autonomous of the Grand Chapter.)
4. No person can be exalted to the Degree of Royal Arch Mason ... until he has been a Master Mason for at least three months ... and paying not less than twenty-one dollars into the Treasury thereof. **(Currently there is no time requirement for being exalted after being raised a Master Mason and the current minimum amount which they must pay to their Chapter is twenty-five dollars)
On motion, Resolved: "That the sum of Fifteen Dollars be allowed to Companion E. Smith Lee for incidental expenses incurred by him in the organization of the Grand Chapter."
By the end of the year 1850 Capitular Masonry in Michigan had grown to 7 Chapters and two hundred and fourteen Companions.
The Grand Chapter has continued to grow and prosper since its inception. It has always been a leader in the education and growth of Masonry in Michigan. The last Charter to be issued was presented to Sunlight Chapter No. 189 of Dearborn on October 15, 1975. Sunlight Chapter was founded as a Daylight Chapter. In 1998 it moved its Charter to Garden City.