In 1775, an African American named Prince Hall was initiated into an Irish Constitution Military Lodge, along with fourteen other African Americans, all of whom were free by birth. When the Military Lodge left the area, the African Americans were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on the days of the Saints John, and conduct Masonic funerals, but not to confer degrees nor to do other Masonic Work. These brothers applied for, and obtained, a Warrant for Charter from the Grand Lodge of England in 1784 and formed African Lodge #459. Subsequently, a tradition of separate, predominately African American jurisdictions in North America, known collectively as “Prince Hall Freemasonry” began to flourish due to widespread racism in North America, which prevented African Americans from joining many mainstream lodges (for instance, the traditional “born free” entrance requirement may have been used in some lodges to exclude Americans of African descent).
Almost one hundred years later, on August 10, 1874, Bro. Thornton Andrew Jackson received the several degrees of the Rite of Adoption of the Order of the Eastern Star from Brother C.B. Case, a Deputy and agent of Illustrious Robert Macoy 33°, Supreme Patron of the Rite of Adoption of the World. In addition, Thornton Jackson also received a letter from Bro. C. B. Case granting him the authority to establish chapters of the Eastern Star among eligible black women. In obedience to the authority granted by William H. Myers, Grand Master, Union Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, Bro. Jackson established the first Eastern Star Chapter among black women in the United States.
On December 1, 1874, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star, was established at 708 – O Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. in the home of Mrs. Georgiana Thomas. The first Worthy Matron was Sister Martha Welch and the first Worthy Patron was Bro. Thornton A. Jackson. Since the establishment of Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Prince Hall has established thousands of Chapters from Kuwait to California bearing the banner of Eastern Stardom and the belief in PHAmily.