A Brief History of the Grand Chapter of the Eastern Star
In response to a call by Richmond Chapter No. 1, a meeting of the chapters in the state of Virginia was held on November 28, 1901, in their chapter rooms at 511 West Clay Street, Richmond, Virginia. The purpose for the meeting was to organize a Grand Chapter. Dr. H. L. Harris set forth the purpose of the meeting and the following chapters responded to a roll call:
Richmond Chapter No. 1, Richmond
Queen Ester Chapter No. 2, Norfolk
Ruth Chapter No. 3, Newport News
Fannie Lewis Chapter No. 4 (then 34), Richmond
Suffolk Chapter No. 5 (now Nansemond 31), Suffolk
Farmville Chapter No. 6 (now Farmville No. 153), Farmville
Electa Chapter No. 7, Petersburg
The first officers were:
Grand Worthy Matron, Sister Eva M. Jackson, Petersburg
Grand Associate Matron, Sister A. E. V. Ramsey, Richmond
Grand Worthy Patron, Dr. H. L. Harris, Petersburg
Grand Associate Patron, Brother W. H. Anderson, Richmond
Grand Secretary, Sister Mary E. Haywood, Newport News
Grand Treasurer, Sister Abigail Dawley, Norfolk
Grand Conductress, Sister Florence Smith, Newport News
Grand Associate Conductress, Sister M. E. Tyler, Richmond
Grand Warder, Sister Mary A. Boothe, Newport News
Grand Lecturers, Sister Lizzie B. Green, Newport News; Brother George E. Dabney, Petersburg
Grand Chaplain, Sister Cecelia Smith, Richmond
Assistant Grand Chaplain, Sister Elizabeth Black, Petersburg
Grand Marshal, Brother Robert Price, Newport News
Grand Adah, Sister Fannie E. Brown, Richmond
Grand Ruth, Sister Bettie Graves, Richmond
Grand Esther, Sister C. J. Banks, Richmond
Grand Martha, Sister Sallie Bartlett, Farmville
Grand Electa, Sister Fannie Wilkerson, Petersburg
Grand Organist, Sister L. A. Coles, Richmond
Grand Sentinel, Sister Martha Tate, Suffolk.
The total members of the Grand Chapter at that time was 115.
The first annual Grand Session was held June 24, 1902 (St. John’s Day) in Petersburg, Virginia. By this time, two new chapters had been organized. The Constitution Committee presented the constitution and it was received and adopted by the sections. The forth Tuesday in July of each year was designated as the time for our annual session. The funds collected for the Endowment Department were to be turned over to the Masonic Mutual Relief Association of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Virginia and administered by the Lodge under the supervision of the Grand Chapter. In July of 1910 the Grand Chapter was licensed to operate its own Endowment Department and it is still in existence today.
The first Grand Worthy Patron, Dr. H. L. Harris, held the position of Grand Worthy Patron for a total of nineteen (19) years. During his tenure, the Grand Chapter, encompassing sixty (60) Chapters, grew to a total of 2, 952 members. An Endowment Board and an Executive Board were instituted. A Juvenile Department was organized in 1904. The Juvenile Department was short-lived. The Grand Chapter was divided into thirteen districts and Deputies appointed to supervise the districts.
During this time and throughout the State of Virginia, the observance of Whit (White) Sunday was implemented. This was a special day initiated whereby all Eastern Star members in all chapters could observe commemorating Pentecost which was the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following the death of Jesus Christ. A Chapter of Sorrow was also established to observe and pay tribute to our deceased members.
In 1992, a Scholarship Committee was organized and has been in existence for the past twenty-seven (27) years. Realizing that good education is one of the most valuable assets that anyone can possess, we are proud to know that our youth are embarking on higher milestones. The committee presently awards six (6) or more scholarships annually contingent upon available funds.
As the Grand Chapter grew, so did its charitable works. The Grand Chapter has supported such organization as the N.A.A.C.P. (Life membership); Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Virginia Federation of Colored Women’s Club; Tuberculosis (T.B.) Association; United Negro College Fund; MCV Cancer Fund; March of Dimes; Intervention Crisis Center; Camp Holiday Trails; American Diabetes Associate; Virginia Baptist Children’s Home; Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) and various local charities in the cities where sessions were held.
Since 1904 to present, chapters have been added, merged or closed. To present we have a total of 89 chapters. The Grand Chapter now has twenty-nine (29) districts to include twenty-two (22) Deputies and two (2) assistant deputies. There is a total of one hundred forty-one (141) present, past, and/or Grand Worthy and Honorary Grand Worthy Matrons, and forty-three (43) present, past, and/or deceased Grand Worthy and Honorary Grand Worthy Patrons. Since Founders Day 2019, (No Founders Day Celebration in 2020, due to COVID-19) we have lost many sisters and brothers. It is very important to express to others that “they are loved and thought about continuously in our hearts each and every day.”
“With Sisterly and Brotherly Love”