consider the beginnings of the Scottish Rite, we must wonder also about
these eleven men who took it upon themselves to formalize a Supreme
Council. What were their names, where did they come from, and what
happened later in their lives? Of course, there isn't time to delve
very far into those matters at this time. But, I do want to list
their names with a few facts as follows:
JOHN MITCHELL - Received a
patent April 2 1795, from Barend Moses Spitzer granting him authority
as Deputy Inspector General to create a Lodge of Perfection and
several Councils and Chapters wherever such Lodges or Chapters were
Born in Ireland in l741, he came to America at an early age, was
Deputy Quartermaster General in the Continental Army, and the first
Grand Commander of the Supreme Council.
FREDERICK DALCHO - A
physician. He served in the Army and for a while was stationed
at Fort Johnson. He formed a partnership with Dr. Isaac Auld,
another of the original members, in 1801. He was an outstanding
orator and author. In 1807 he published the 1st Edition of
Ahiman Rezon. He became an editor of the Charleston Courier, was
a lay reader and deacon in the Episcopal Church and in 1818 was
ordained a Priest.
ALEXANDER FRANCOIS AUGUSTE deGRASSE TILLY
- A son of a French Admiral, and perhaps the most famously connected
of all the original eleven. He was the youngest of the members
and was named to become the Grand Commander of the West Indian
Islands. He later moved to France and established the Supreme
Council of France.
JEAN BAPTISTE MARIE DeLAHOGUE
- He was a native of Paris and was a member of LaCandeur Lodge in
THOMAS BARTHOLOMEW BOWEN - Was
the first Grand Master of Ceremonies of the new Supreme Council.
He was a Major in the Continental Army and a printer by trade.
ABRAHAM ALEXANDER - Was one of
the first Sovereign Grand Inspectors General. He was born in
London in 1743, immigrated to Charleston in 1771. He was a very
prominent Jew and had been described as "a Calligraphist of the
first order," which may account for his election as the first
Grand Secretary General.
EMANUEL DE LA MATTA - A
Sovereign Grand Inspector General. He was by trade a merchant
and auctioneer. He was a member of Friendship Lodge and was
reported to be quite devoted to the study of Jewish Literature and
ISAAC AULD - An eminent
physician, associated in medical practice with Dr. Dalcho. He
was a rigid Congregationalist.
ISRAEL DE LIEBEN - A Sovereign
Grand Inspector General and the first Grand Treasurer General.
He was born in Prague and emigrated to America upon reaching Majority
age. He was known as "the liberal-headed Jew," who was
"tolerant in his religious opinions and was considered to be
intelligent, enterprising, liberal and generous.
MOSES CLAVA LEVY - Was born in
Krakow, Poland. He was a prosperous merchant, was generous and
helpful to the unfortunate and devoted to his adopted city and
JAMES MOULTRIE - Was the only
native South Carolinian among the original members. He was a
Doctor of Medicine, and according to Albert Pike, "was one of the
foremost Citizens of South Carolina."
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Yes, it was an unusual group, all possessing a
strong religious heritage. Four were Jews, two were from Scotland,
two from Ireland, two were Frenchmen and one was a German. Each
representing a rich and varied background. The four who were Jews
were from different countries and reflected quite different upbringing in
religious matters. By profession they were soldiers, physicians,
merchants and one was a
Pike summarized the founding fathers in this
manner: "When and where has there ever been exhibited a more striking
proof of the strength and value of Masonic brotherhood?" It is
interesting to note this group lacked but one to equal the number of the
Apostles, yet it included no Judas.
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One of the interesting
ventures in planning for 2001 has been the search for the burial sites of
A committee was formed at the
Charleston Scottish Rite to place markers on the graves of the founders,
if located. A large granite plaque was installed on the wall of the Jewish
Cemetery in Charleston to indicate that the four Jewish founders were
buried in this cemetery. It is a historic burial ground going back
to colonial days and the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in the
South. The history of Jews in Charleston is long and
honorable. Jewish pioneers began to settle in the city not long
after the founding of the colony of Carolina. At first they
worshipped in each otherís homes until they became numerous enough to
organize a congregation. In 1749, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Holy
Congregation House of God) was founded more that a quarter of a century
before the American Revolution began.
Fifteen years passed before the colonial Jewish
community of Charleston acquired a communal cemetery. In 1764, Isaac
Da Costa, a merchant, conveyed in trust to the congregation a plot he had
originally bought ten years earlier for a private cemetery. This
cemetery comprises about an acre of land and was originally some distance
outside the city limits. Jewish cemeteries customarily are not in
the vicinity of synagogues. The growth of the city has engulfed the
cemetery which now lies in the midst of a tenement district.
Today some 600 tombstones are to be found
there. Others have been lost, and the inscriptions on many of the
older stones are illegible. This is why a plaque was installed by
the Supreme Council with all four names on it since one of the four graves
has an illegible tombstone. In accordance with colonial custom, most
of the older tombstones are flat stone slabs. Some lie close to the
ground, and others are on raised brick foundations. There are also
some tall and impressive monuments. While most of the inscriptions
are in English, many include Hebrew and quote from the Bible. Most
of the tombs date from the latter part of the 18th and 19th centuries, up
to and including the Civil War.
The chief fascination of this old cemetery is its
rich historic legacy. Here lie the remains of many of the notable
Jews of a community which, during the period after the Revolution to about
1820, grew to be "the largest, the most cultured and the wealthiest
Jewish community in America." The Cemetery We Rededicate by
Thomas J. Tobias (1964), from which much of this article was taken, states
that founder Abraham Alexander served as minister of Beth Elohim from 1785
to 1805. Also, the line "praise the Lord and pass the
ammunition," from a World War II ballad, is exemplified by Abraham
Alexander, Sr. (d.1816). He was a London-born Jew, learned in
Hebrew, who served for 20 years as volunteer lay minister of Beth Elohim.
When the Revolution came, he left his trade as a scrivener (scribe) and
his congregational duties to fight as a cavalryman, serving as a
lieutenant of dragoons in Sumterís Brigade and in Col. Hillís
For detailed biographies of the four Jewish
founders of the Supreme Council, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, S.J.,
U.S.A., see the 1959 book The Eleven Gentlemen of Charleston by
Ray Baker Harris, then the Librarian and an Honorary Member of the Supreme
Council, 33į, as well as a Past Grand Master of Masons in the District of
are buried in the Jewish Cemetery on Comings Street in Charleston:
|Dr. Dalcho is in St. Michael's Cemetery.|
Dr. James Moultrie is in St.
Phillip's Cemetery in an unmarked grave. A marker was placed on
his grave just a few weeks ago.
DeGrasse and DeLoneguea are
buried in Paris. Arrangements are being made to place markers on
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Still seeking the burial sites
of Mitchell, Auld and Bowen. We know they are in Charleston
somewhere, possibly in private family plots.