This collection contains the records (1873-2010) of the fraternal secret society Knights of Pythias Grand Lodge, Domain of North Carolina. Records include biennial and annual reports of local lodges, the Records of Proceedings for the annual sessions of the Grand Lodge, financial records, minute book, constitutions and bylaws, publications and items such as the 1909 Pythian Service Book.
In 1871, five subordinate lodges in North Carolina (Stonewall Lodge (#1) in Wilmington, Clarendon Lodge (#2) in Wilmington, Centre Lodge (#3) in Raleigh, Germania Lodge (#4) in Wilmington, and Cumberland Lodge (#5) in Fayetteville) were included in the formation of the Grand Lodge, Knights of Pythias of the Domain of North Carolina. According to organizational regulations, five subordinate lodges were required to form a Grand Lodge. In 1897 The General Assembly of North Carolina ratified an act to incorporate this Grand Lodge.
The Knights of Pythias is an international fraternal order. It is dedicated to the ideals of friendship, charity and benevolence. Its founder, Justus H. Rathbone was inspired by the friendship of Damon and Pythias, historical characters who lived approximately four hundred years prior to the Christian era. These two characters were members of a school founded by Pythagoras, who was known as the father of Greek philosophy. The organization was greatly admired by President Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln suggested that the organization ask Congress for a charter. Congress agreed, and the organization was officially established at Washington, D.C., on February 19, 1864. It was the first fraternal order to be chartered by an act of Congress. In 2003, the organization consisted of more than 2,000 lodges and 50,000 members worldwide.
Defining principles of the Order of Knights of Pythias are friendship, charity and benevolence, and peace through understanding. The end purpose of the order is the moral uplifting and purification of society. Such virtues as morality, absolute truthfulness, honor and integrity are all regarded as having high importance by members. Traditionally, becoming a member of the Pythagorean Brotherhood meant meeting certain rigorous tests, some of which still exist today. The first small group of members took the vows of the new order by placing their hands upon a pocket Bible that had been given to Rathbone by his mother. This Bible is still in the organization's possession, and is a treasured relic of the order. Thousands of others have become members by participating in what is known as "Rathbone Bible Classes" in which the original Bible was used.
The Knights of Pythias is also very much a philanthropic organization. Through various regional groups and chapters, they carry out countless types of charitable works throughout the year. These include fundraising events for sick children in local communities, organized events for senior citizens and handicapped children, as well as monetary donations to aid hospitals, nursing homes, children's homes and college scholarships.
This collection contains semi-annual and annual reports of the lodges of Knights of Pythias in North Carolina, 1875-2002; published issues of the record of proceedings for annual sessions of the Grand Lodge, 1873-2006; and financial records, 1951-1952, 1971-1977.
The records in Series I contain annual and semi-annual reports for 248 local lodges of Knights of Pythias in the Domain of North Carolina. Both types of reports are identical in scope, with each containing financial reports, rosters of current and past Supreme Chancellors, Grand Chancellors, Knights, Esquires and regular members. Also mentioned are members who were withdrawn, reinstated and rejected. These records also include petitions for dispensation of the lodges issued by the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. These petitions include the name, age, residence and occupation of the members of the respective lodge. These petitions were issued when members wanted to form a new lodge.
Series II contains annual reports, proceedings and other records. The published proceedings of annual sessions of The Grand Lodge include announcements, minutes, committee member lists and committee reports documenting activities carried out during the year. Of particular interest are the charitable activities carried out by the organization. For example, the organization sponsored and administrated its own children's home. Among the information found is statistics, lists of children's names and the condition of the home. Other records arranged at the end of Series II include constitution and by-laws of the organization, records of Supreme Lodge Convention (1946, 1978) and two account books (1951-1977) documenting various outgoing expenses and incoming revenue of the organization. Also included is a letter and brochure related to the nomination by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources of a former Knights of Pythias building in Market House Square at Fayetteville, N.C., to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. "Miscellaneous" materials include cancelled checks, receipts, member lists, an undated program outlining details of a memorial service, a 1936 annual report of the Supreme Lodge, a photocopy of the 1877 act by The General Assembly of North Carolina to incorporate Cumberland Lodge (#5) in Fayetteville, N.C., and correspondence (1895) from Grand Chancellor Charles A. Webb to another member describing routine business and interest in creating new lodges.
Gift of Lee Parris, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge, Domain of North Carolina
Gift of Neill Lindsay, Grand Chancellor, Grand Lodge, Domain of North Carolina
Gift of Jonathan A. Underwood, Director, Stanly County Museum
Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, May 06, 2009
Inventories by Srujana Rallabandi, May 19, 2009, and Martha Elmore, November 24, 2010.
Descriptions by Dale Sauter July 2009
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.